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From railroad imperialism to neoliberal reprimarization: Lessons from regime-shifts in the Global Soybean Complex


Mempel, Finn; Corbera, Esteve; Rodríguez-Labajos, Beatriz; Challies, Edward (2023). From railroad imperialism to neoliberal reprimarization: Lessons from regime-shifts in the Global Soybean Complex. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Soybeans are ubiquitous in the global food system. As a major forest risk commodity, they are also at the heart of efforts to untangle the dynamics of land use change and associated impacts resulting from distant drivers. However, land system science has so far largely ignored the historically and socially embedded nature of these entanglements. This results in snapshot-like representations relying on neoclassical approaches to production and consumption. Here, we trace the evolution of the global soybean complex (GSC) since the late nineteenth century. We analyze how in the context of external developments soybeans have been channeled into different provisioning systems. This has occurred in a series of socio-ecological fixes, facilitated by socio-technological innovations and public sector interventions, motivated by different impediments to capital accumulation. Today, several emerging socio-technological practices promise to transform the GSC towards sustainability. We argue that the contemporary GSC inherits defining properties from the past, particularly the postwar strategy of using industrial animal farming to add value to surplus grains and oilseeds. The expanding GSC is therefore not merely a result of increasing demand, but rather the outcome of different provisioning systems’ continued dependence on soybeans. Future transitions will depend on public interventions and the influence of vested interest in current socio-metabolic patterns.

Abstract

Soybeans are ubiquitous in the global food system. As a major forest risk commodity, they are also at the heart of efforts to untangle the dynamics of land use change and associated impacts resulting from distant drivers. However, land system science has so far largely ignored the historically and socially embedded nature of these entanglements. This results in snapshot-like representations relying on neoclassical approaches to production and consumption. Here, we trace the evolution of the global soybean complex (GSC) since the late nineteenth century. We analyze how in the context of external developments soybeans have been channeled into different provisioning systems. This has occurred in a series of socio-ecological fixes, facilitated by socio-technological innovations and public sector interventions, motivated by different impediments to capital accumulation. Today, several emerging socio-technological practices promise to transform the GSC towards sustainability. We argue that the contemporary GSC inherits defining properties from the past, particularly the postwar strategy of using industrial animal farming to add value to surplus grains and oilseeds. The expanding GSC is therefore not merely a result of increasing demand, but rather the outcome of different provisioning systems’ continued dependence on soybeans. Future transitions will depend on public interventions and the influence of vested interest in current socio-metabolic patterns.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Geography, Planning and Development
Social Sciences & Humanities > Development
Physical Sciences > Nature and Landscape Conservation
Physical Sciences > Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Language:English
Date:2023
Deposited On:10 Oct 2023 09:04
Last Modified:29 Apr 2024 01:40
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:2514-8486
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/25148486231201216
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)