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Global glyphosate sales, 1980 through 2018. Source: Adapted from data provided in communication with Phillips McDougall.

Global glyphosate sales, 1980 through 2018. Source: Adapted from data provided in communication with Phillips McDougall.

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The ubiquity of chemicals demands new ways of thinking about human-nature assemblages. This article develops a dialogue between agrarian political economy, critical commodity chains research, and chemical geographies through a case study of the world's most widely used agrochemical: glyphosate, commonly known as Monsanto's Roundup. In the 1980s, gl...

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... dropped from US$40 per liter in the early 1980s to around US$10 in the early 1990s to US$3 in 2000 ( Trigo et al. 2003). Sales of glyphosate soared as a result (Figure 2), mirroring the spectacular volume increases noted earlier, until the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, which started a period of volatility in both sales and prices linked to variability in both crop markets and Chinese production of technical glyphosate (Shoham 2015). Emerging at that time, too, were new challenges to the safety-effectiveness promise of the benign biocide, to which we return in the next section. ...

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... We become more and more aware of the limits of rendering nonhuman nature disposable, of using nature as a tap for cheap production inputs and as a sink to absorb the waste of capitalist production and consumption (Collard and Dempsey, 2013;Johnson, 2021;Moore, 2015;Müller et al., 2021;Ouma et al., 2018). At the same time, we are witnessing how this particular instance of debordering can lead to new accumulation opportunities and have a restabilizing effect, however, fragile it may be (e.g., chemicalization of agriculture; Shattuck, 2021;Werner et al., 2022). A further example is the state-economy contact zone. ...
... Regarding nature, one could point to the almost insatiable thirst for "untapped" natural resources in the supply chains of key commodities that sustain our lives. There is the long-debated extraction of the mineral resources that make our hedonistic mobile life-styles possible (e.g., coltan, lithium, and gold) (Arboleda, 2020); the transformation of seemingly ubiquitous material into scarce, valuable hard commodities (e.g., sand) (Lamb et al., 2019); and the chemical treadmill of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that enable the production of ever larger quantities of an ever smaller number of soft commodities (soy, wheat, rice, and corn) and that depend on the mining of salt or phosphorous (Galt, 2017;Shattuck, 2021;Werner et al., 2022). ...
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This paper is as an invitation to rethink social studies of economization and geographies of marketization at a time when the heydays of neoliberal marketization seem to be over. After briefly summarizing the thrust of the economization/marketization approach, we make two suggestions to develop the perspective further. The first is to make use of economic geography’s heterodox tradition and contribute to the ongoing “provincialization” of the neoclassical market. Second, theorizing actually existing market arrangements as necessarily involving struggles between competing logics and rationalities, we open social studies of economization and geographies of marketization for questions of social inequality, marginalization and exclusion.
... Global pesticide use has grown during the twenty-first century partly due to the proliferation of pesticide generics that pour from China, and to a lesser extent from India, to elsewhere in the Global South, especially to Brazil (Oliveira, He, and Ma 2020;Shattuck 2021;Werner, Berndt, and Mansfield 2022). For this article, we analysed events and policies through which Brazilian agriculture has become a global hotspot for pesticide consumption in the global agrarian capitalism. ...
... Even though various highly hazardous pesticides have been banned in the Global North, they continue to be produced there and shipped to the Global South (FAO and WHO 2019) where 99% of the associated acute poisonings take place (Zaller 2022). The industry has consolidated to a remarkable extent in the last few decades (Clapp 2021;Werner, Berndt, and Mansfield 2022). In China, the consolidation began in the early 2010s and continues to do so under China's five-year plans, with the Syngenta Group spearheading this development (Werner, Berndt, and Mansfield 2022). ...
... The industry has consolidated to a remarkable extent in the last few decades (Clapp 2021;Werner, Berndt, and Mansfield 2022). In China, the consolidation began in the early 2010s and continues to do so under China's five-year plans, with the Syngenta Group spearheading this development (Werner, Berndt, and Mansfield 2022). With the purchase of the largest pesticide producer, Syngenta, by the Chinese state-owned chemical company (the China National Chemical Corporation or simply ChemChina) in 2017, China entered the inner circles of power within the global agrochemical industry (Oliveira, He, and Ma 2020). ...
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A fast and reliable method for the direct determination of the herbicide glyphosate, its major degradation product aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) and glufosinate is presented for a variety of food matrices. The Quick Polar Pesticides in food of Plant Origin method (QuPPe-PO-Method) was used for extraction without further preconcentration or clean-up steps involving e.g. solid phase extraction (SPE). The method makes use of a commercially available high performance liquid chromatograph coupled to a tandem mass spectrometer with electrospray ionization (LC-ESI-MS/MS) - as present in many laboratories - equipped with an ion exchange (IC)-column using an MS-compatible eluent made of 0.8% formic acid in water. Due to the absence of time-consuming clean-up procedures, strong matrix effects (ME) of up to 91% for AMPA in grapefruit can be observed, when comparing its sensitivity to that obtained for solvent-based standards. The limits of detection (LODs) were determined for the sample matrices apple, mushrooms, grapefruit, linseed, red lentils and wheat and they were found to be in the range of 0.09 to 0.8, 0.04 to 1 and 0.2 to 2 µg/kg for glyphosate, AMPA and glufosinate, respectively. For the same matrices the validation was carried out according to SANTE guidelines for different commodity groups by spiking them up prior to extraction to concentrations ranging from 10 to 400 µg/kg for matrices with high water content and from 10 to 800 µg/kg for matrices with low water content. When using solvent-based calibration under the use of isotopically labelled internal standards (ILIS) the recoveries were found to range from 84% to 120% and the relative standard deviations (RSD) range between 1% and 19% for glyphosate, AMPA and glufosinate at all fortification levels for all matrices investigated. Accordingly, the method was successfully introduced in our laboratory with limits of quantification (LOQs) of 10 µg/kg for glyphosate, AMPA and glufosinate in samples from SANTE commodity groups 1, 2, 4a and 5. The reliability and robustness of the method are demonstrated by showing a recovery control chart obtained for glyphosate in randomly selected samples from different commodity groups. Therefore, the samples were spiked up with 10 µg/kg of glyphosate during routine analysis, whereby all recoveries were found to be in the range between 70 and 120%.
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Costa Rica's prodigious use of pesticides, as well as the burgeoning plantation sector that these agrochemicals support, exacerbates the tensions between extraction and preservation at the heart of the country's development model. We explore these tensions through a study of the country's pesticide registry, the regulatory process to approve active ingredients and formulations for use. After nearly two decades of reform efforts, the registry is widely recognized to be non-functioning: most of the country's pesticides exist in administrative limbo and relatively few new compounds have been approved. Based on extensive interviews and in-depth policy analysis, we construct four phases of reform and use a strategic-relational approach to the state to analyze this process. We conceptualize the registry's gridlock as a form of governance that we term regulation by impasse, an arrangement reproduced through disputes within and between the cognizant ministries, juridical bodies and other regulating authorities, in relation to the shifting strategies and contexts of political economic and wider social forces. We argue that hegemony is tenuously maintained through the registry dispute itself, while revealing the deeply frayed condition of the Costa Rican development model.
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This paper presents a vegetal political ecology of weeds. Weeds have barely been analysed in the burgeoning field of ‘more-than-human’ scholarship, this despite their ubiquity and considerable impact on human social life. We review how geographical scholarship has represented weeds’ material and political status: mostly as invasive plants, annoying species in private gardens and spontaneous vegetation in urbanized landscapes. Then, bringing together weed science, agronomic science and the critical geography of agriculture, we show how weeds ecology, weeds management and the environmental problems which weeds are entangled have critically shaped the industrial agriculture paradigm. Three main arguments emerging from our analysis open up new research avenues: weeds’ disruptive character might shape our understanding of human-plant relationships; human-weeds relation in agriculture have non-trivial socio-economic and political implications; and more-than-human approaches, such as vegetal political ecology, might challenge dominant modes of considering and practicing agriculture.
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Agriculture is now more dependent on pesticides than ever. The value of global pesticide imports increased 3x faster in the 2000s than in the 1990s. Structural transformations in the industry – including reduced innovation, increased regulatory costs, consolidation, and a dramatic shift to generic pesticides largely produced in China – have shifted prices, supply chains and formulations. The ‘supermarket revolution’, migration, and rising labor costs are driving an increase in demand. The result is a pesticide complex that is multipolar, where commodity chains and environmental impacts are less legible, requiring a hard look at the chemical nature of agrarian capitalism.