Rural Sociological Society (RSS), Sociology of Agri-food Research Interest Group (SAFRIG)
SAFRIG Mini-Conference Program Paper Abstracts
Session 1: Governance and/in Crisis
Alessandro Bonanno - The legitimation crisis of neoliberal globalization: Instances from agriculture and food
Abstract: The legitimation crisis of Fordism paved the way for the development of Neoliberal Globalization. The regulatory intervention of the nation-state, its control of markets, and redistribution of economic resources toward lower segments of society were considered too costly by dominant groups and consequently opposed. Globalization and the neoliberal ideology that supported it were the class response to Fordism. Central to the Globalization hegemonic project was the idea of the efficient functioning of the market. The free functioning market was presented as neutral – no political actor could influence it – and prosed as an alternative to the politically directed and, therefore imperfect and limited, intervention of the state in the economy and society. The legitimacy of this ideology is challenged by the inability of the Globalization project to fulfill its promises to the broader society. Market mechanisms have repeatedly not achieved desired goals and calls for state intervention come from all segments of society. In this context, the crisis of Neoliberal Globalization is structural and ideological. It is structural as the resources to address the unwanted consequences of the free functioning of the market cannot be mobilized. The concentration of profit to the corporate upper class, the domination of financial capital over productive capital, the fiscal crisis of nation-state and the impoverishment of the middle and lover classes are factors that prevent the mobilization of these resources. This crisis is ideological as the idea that the free functioning of the market produces desirable consequences is denied by events that require state intervention. Examples from the agri-food sector are employed to illustrate the components of this crisis. The paper concludes with a discussion of the historical possibilities that this situation entails for agri-food and society. Read full paper.
Abstract: The contemporary neoliberal regime is built on several now weakened, but nevertheless real – in W.I. Thomas's sense -- myths. These include, among others, the myth of the market and the myth of government. The myth of the market (following Hayek and Friedman) asserts that markets always lead to the best, freest, and most efficient, outcomes. The myth of government asserts that to promote freedom government should be radically limited to the promotion of 'free' markets and regulation from a distance. Both myths have been widely applied in the agrifood sector and elsewhere, leading to the financial crisis, widespread unemployment, growing hunger, hollowing out of the State, and weakening of democratic governments. But a key feature of neoliberalism that should not be ignored is its emphasis on performance: Neoliberals reject laissez-faire approaches arguing instead that the State must be redesigned to perform the market society. This simultaneously makes possible the neoliberal regime and shows its weak underbelly. Once we recognize (1) that markets can be performed in a nearly infinite number of ways, and (2) the narrowing of the role of government merely allows other less accountable actors to govern, we can begin to design and perform alternative and more democratic societies. Read full paper.
Steven Wolf - U.S. agrienvironmental policy: Neoliberalization of nature meets old public management
Abstract: The discourses, relations and practices that define agrifood systems are characterized as being increasingly structured and evaluated through reference to market-oriented accountability regimes. Yet, we observe that agrienvironmental policy remains a holdout in the US, Europe and perhaps beyond. While there is interest in introducing market discipline into environmental management in rural landscapes and rationalizing provision of public goods through greater reliance on market-based policy instruments, institutional innovation is constrained by historical processes, politics and technical factors. The state-centered policy networks and the associated bureaucratic routines persist despite a sharp discursive turn toward "outcome-based" policy analysis and design. Based on analysis of the current Farm Bill deliberations, contextualized through reference to the past 25 years of agrienvironmental policy and the contemporary debate on ecosystem services and how to secure them, we examine the ways in which market logic is and is not being incorporated into contemporary agrienvironmental policy. The analysis would seem to confuse claims of a neoliberal order as a fait accompli. More interestingly, the analysis points to self-limiting incoherence of a world structured strictly according to market relations. Read full paper.
Session 2: Mechanisms, Processes and Dynamics
Anouk Patel-Campillo - Operationalizating neoliberal incursions: "The competitiveness agenda" as an ideological project of diffusion
Abstract: This paper explores the role of the "competitiveness agenda" in the deepening of neoliberal ideologies in agri-food global production networks. Based on comparative research on the Dutch and Colombian cut flower agro-industries, I argue that the ideological and material coherence of neoliberal agri-food regimes depends on operating projects such as the "competitiveness agenda" actively diffused by national governments and economic actors across sub-national scales. In the Netherlands, national state-led efforts to diffuse the competitiveness agenda deploy framing concepts and rescaling as a means to diffuse this agenda sub-nationally. In Colombia, mechanisms of diffusion include processes of devolution and development discourse. The findings of this research indicate that the sub-national diffusion of the neoliberal competitiveness agenda associated with export-oriented cut flower production is primarily driven by the national state and rests on effective cross-scale coordination and the deployment of unifying framing concepts and discourses at the sub-national scale. However, the diffusion of the state-led neoliberal competitiveness agenda sub-nationally produces uneven outcomes –a coordinated competitiveness agenda versus one that is contested- which in part depends on the organization of each commodity chain.
Abstract: The last five years have seen a significant movement of private capital into farmland markets globally. Institutional investors, in particular, have a newfound interest in acquiring farmland for their portfolios. I examine this phenomenon through the theoretical lens of financialization, drawing from participant observation at farmland investment conferences and interviews with actors along the "fictitious commodity chain" in land. I discuss farmland's threefold appeal – as a productive asset, an inflation hedge, and a speculative asset – examining the material and discursive drivers that make each appealing to investors. I then argue that the current affinity felt by financiers for farmland represents something of a paradox. On the one hand, the drive to make productive investments in the ultimate "real" economic asset appears to lend credence to the view that the period of financialization is over (Krippner 2011), while on the other hand, the cultures and structures which characterized that period still dominate the emerging sector. Indeed, efforts to "financialize farmland" by making its inflation hedging and speculative benefits legible to mainstream investors may be the primary cause of its current appeal. I conclude by considering whether we are witnessing a mere farmland bubble or the lineaments of a new food regime. Read full paper.
Kathryn Anderson - The Potential for Agri-business to Obstruct Reduction of Water Pollution from Livestock Farms: Evidence from France, Netherlands and Wisconsin USA
Abstract: Phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers are the main nutrient inputs in the agro-industrial complex. They also are responsible for severe water pollution. Intensive use of these nutrients combined with concentration and industrialization in the global livestock sector result in toxic lakes, algae-covered beaches, and unsafe drinking water. "Best management practices" have been honed to prevent water pollution from livestock agriculture, but these practices are unevenly adopted, and in some watersheds there simply are too many animals for even the most stringent practices to offset. While local farmers and citizen groups are key to clean water, government action at the federal level is vital. This paper examines the performance of nutrient management regulations for livestock farms in three watersheds located in Wisconsin, USA; Gelderland, Netherlands; and Brittany, France. I investigate the factors that facilitate or impede successful nutrient management legislation. I find that national-level politics and pressure from agribusiness interest groups are the main barriers to effective policies; however, global commodity markets and rapid consolidation (in farms and in input and output markets) pose interacting constraints. On one hand, environmental regulations are one more blow in a world where farmers already have to get big or get out. On the other hand, in many places, truly effective policy may have the potential to limit animal density and challenge consolidation. This research suggests that a holistic and internationally coordinated approach to agri-environmental policy could both improve water quality and support local livestock agriculture. Read full paper.
André Magnan - The rise and fall of a prairie giant: The Canadian Wheat Board in food regime history
Abstract: This paper interprets the prospective demise of the Canadian Wheat Board in the context of its role across three food regimes (Friedmann and McMichael 1989). Collective grain marketing was first conceived by prairie farmers, during the first food regime, as a means of addressing the structural inequalities of the private grain trade and achieving orderly marketing. It wasn't until the Second World War, however, that the state finally implemented the "single-desk" (i.e., monopoly) marketing system that would be the hallmark of the prairie wheat economy for seven decades. During the second food regime, the CWB served several goals that complemented the agendas of farmers and the state, including increasing and stabilizing farm incomes and establishing new export outlets. After the crisis of the second food regime, beginning in the 1970s, the CWB was subject to latent political conflicts over its marketing role. In 1998, the organization was transformed into a farmer-controlled marketing agency, which helped diffuse these conflicts. Since 2006, however, the Canadian federal government has systematically undermined the farmer-controlled CWB, seeking to complete the neoliberal transformation of the prairie grains sector. As of August 1, 2012, the CWB will cease to exist as a farmer-owned single-desk marketing agency. The CWB's demise provides an opportunity to reflect on alternative futures for the prairie grains sector. Read full paper.
Session 3: Reading the Landscape
Abstract: In this paper, I examine Chicago's Urban Bee Farm Cooperative, in the context of the local foods movement, as a response to neoliberalism. Despite the intention of those involved in the Cooperative to resist the effects of neoliberalism—particularly growing social inequality, urban blight, and unsustainable agricultural practices—I argue that this particular configuration of a "for-benefit social business" is clearly embedded within the neoliberal paradigm. Additionally, it presents a hitherto unexplored type of localism, which I call extractive localism. Through the concept of extractive localism, I challenge the idea that place is bounded by highlighting the spatial mobility of the social entrepreneurs who created the Urban Bee Farm Cooperative. Read full paper.
Abstract: For decades, the expansion and intensification of primitive accumulation through neoliberal agriculture has been a necessary feature of capitalism, serving to mitigate its crises by way of globalization and the new international division of labor. It is a regime of accumulation hinged to the enclosure and privatization of that which was previously held in common—from land, water and seeds to technology, history and knowledge—and the dispossession of those whose livelihood is tied to the availability of these common resources. My analysis begins with an understanding of this type of capitalist expansion as a necessarily violent process. Aside from the initial act of dispossession, accumulation through enclosure requires constant enforcement, namely the policing and destruction of those economic or social activities that are not already subordinated to the logic of accumulation. In this paper, I investigate the dialectical relationship between the economic liberalization of global agricultural production and various systems of policing on behalf of capital and the state. Specifically, I articulate the myriad ways that 'policing' can be understood as it is used to facilitate and control the process of enclosure in a neoliberal imperialist food regime, a regime in which the production and movement of food is conditioned as much by the economics of the market as it is by the non-economic forces of neo-imperialist development and global class struggle. I aim to integrate issues of militarization, debt, patriarchy, technology, and immigration—all as intersecting means through which to effectively police both the process of enclosure and the lives of the dispossessed themselves. Read full paper.
Haruhiko Iba - Beyond farming: cases of revitalization of rural communities through multi-role community farming enterprise as social service provider
Abstract: This study aims to elucidate diversifying roles of Community Farming Enterprises (CFEs) as social service provider in rural areas of Japan under neoliberal political-economic climate, and to examine their potential to build socio-economically sustainable rural communities. CFEs are groups comprising community members collectively engaged in agricultural endeavors, and have proved their effectiveness in not only maintaining viable farming in disadvantageous mountainous areas, but also conserving environmental resources and reviving community activity and solidarity. Meanwhile, recent neoliberal reforms led by the national government, including municipal mergers and fiscal austerity, which posed daunting challenges to local government's ability to deliver public services to aging rural areas, have prompted CFEs to embark on social service provisions, such as social welfare programs, in remote communities. We thus explored rationales and mechanisms underlying such CFEs' social service endeavors. Our case studies indicate, social service can be a viable enterprise for CFEs because of their specific advantages, including close relationship with clients, who are often the same community's members. Also, optimizing labor allocation with farming endeavors, social service business can improve CFEs' cash flow, thus strengthen their financial stability. Hence CFEs as new civic actors can be viable local solutions beyond farming to socio-economic inequalities in rural Japan or other areas exposed to neoliberal reforms. However, social welfare provisions by private actors can be easily jeopardized due to their intrinsically weak profitability in underpopulated communities. Therefore, we argue, to maintain CFE's social service provision sustainable, effective public budgetary support should be considered. Read full paper.
Abstract: Food movements span countries from the Global South to the North: Via Campesina unites small producers worldwide in the struggle for food sovereignty while "vote with your fork" mantras implore consumers to shop smarter. However, such conversations are often drowned out in emerging economies where an expanding middle class demands affordable animal protein. Thus, even as local responses challenge the dominant food regime in some places, global demand for meat is stimulating corporate consolidation and a deepening of industrial agriculture in many agro-exporting countries along neoliberal lines. This research aims to elucidate this phenomenon by examining the meat industry of Argentina, where beef is synonymous with the country's asado tradition. As politically-powerful beef producers attempt to export to increasingly lucrative global markets, they collide with government efforts to keep domestic prices down. The subsequent pressure to reduce costs has not only triggered a shift away from traditionally grass-fed cattle towards feedlot finishing, but it has also undermined the vitality of the industry itself while exacerbating price increases. Tracts of pastureland are converted to profitable soy production while the rapidly-growing poultry industry, capitalizing on this opportunity, is increasingly characterized by consolidation. Evidence thus portends entrenchment: corporate-dominated industrialized agriculture intensifies and expands into new regions to meet the growing demand for meat. Rather than erode or undergo comprehensive re-structuring, the neoliberal food regime appears to adapt as capital accumulation shifts geographically, despite the devastating health, social, and environmental costs of industrial food. Read full paper.
Session 4: Corporations, the State and Agri-food Regimes
In this paper we employ a commodity systems approach combined with a
political economy of agrifood conceptual frame to interpret the case of
the poultry industry as an early model of flexible accumulation
strategies in agriculture in the United States. The poultry industry in
the United States is often characterized by a monopsony system whereby
the contract growers are dependent on one intregrator. Employing
contract grower testimony as our source of data, we focus on the
concepts of "hold up," "asset specificity," and the strategy called "the
tournament" as mechanisms that poultry integrators employ as flexible
accumulation tools to discipline contract growers. In response to
increasing grower concerns regarding monopsony opportunism, the USDA and
USDOJ have conducted hearings to gather testimony and mediate the
As the adoption of contracts expands into other commodities and countries, the lessons from the poultry industry are invaluable both historically and conceptually as a warning of the future of agrifood. Read full paper.
Mary Hendrickson - Power and agency in the neoliberal era: The state and transnational agrifood firms
Abstract: An important element of discussing and assessing changes in the structure of the agrifood system that have taken place during the Neoliberal Regime is to understand the consolidation of agrifood markets, from inputs such as seeds, to trading of grains, to processing of proteins, to the retailing of food. As part of the Missouri School tradition, we have shown the increasing market power of dominant transnational agrifood firms across the globe, across agricultural commodities and in emerging alternative markets such as organic. During the Neoliberal Era, decision-making about agriculture and food has moved from the public sector to the private sector – well explained in the shift from a government to governance regulatory framework, while farmers, workers and consumers have attempted to recapture control through market-based change as well as by making claims on the weakened national state. In this paper, we document the on-going consolidation of markets by specific transnational actors, the power conferred through these processes, and the difficulty for food and agriculture movements to make claims on a weakening state – in other words the failure of the state to legitimate accumulation strategies of transnational agrifood firms. We specifically examine the failure of the U.S. state to effectively use competition policy in the case of the 2010 USDA-DOJ anti-trust hearings, especially in regards to long-awaited changes in GIPSA rules. In a similar vein, changes in the organic sector have been met with social opposition but a weakened state has not been able to counteract consolidation, leaving social movements to employ other means of resistance. We conclude by examining potential opportunities for a rebalancing of public-private decision-making in this era of transnational food.
Jill Harrison - Navigating the neoliberal-nativist interface: Farmer survival and the construction of racially segregated workplaces
Abstract: In this paper, we argue that the construction of industrialized and segregated workplaces is one of farmers' primary strategic responses to the broader neoliberal and nativist contexts within which they find themselves. We do this through our case study of dairy farming in Wisconsin, where we have found that, in just the past 10 years, employers have come to rely on immigrant workers and where labor relations have become remarkably segregated by race. We draw on our statewide survey of dairy farmers and their employees, focus groups with farmers, in-depth interviews with employers, and in-depth interviews with immigrant workers. We illustrate how these employers cultivate, discipline, and naturalize an 'ideal' and highly segregated workforce, and explain that they do so as a purposeful, useful way to help secure their own increasingly precarious positions vis-à-vis other industry actors and to improve their own quality of life. In so doing, they pass along their own vulnerabilities and disadvantaged status to the immigrant workers they employ, in turn compounding immigrant workers' own marginalization and largely cementing segregation in the workplace. Additionally, we find that farm size plays a role in these patterns, although in perhaps surprising ways. Read full paper.
Session 5: Alternatives to Neoliberal Global Agriculture
Mark Juhasz - Planning and developing information visualization tools that foster agricultural innovation alternatives
Stepping off from recent reinterpretations of Adoption and Diffusion of
Innovations (ADI) theory that look at the prospects and barriers
towards sustainable agricultural practices, this presentation aims to
explore how the profusion of information on food production, farming
methods, programs, extension and evaluation experience might be
developed into user-friendly software formats that can facilitate
stakeholder ability to raise awareness, discuss, and plan pathways to
action that challenge the status quo of neoliberal economics and
decision making in the North American agri-food system.
With specific examples from data visualization tools used in public health and economic development sectors, translation to the agri-food sector will be considered. The focus of the presentation is to consider how new methodologies and participation processes for agriculture can utilize the immensity of data available towards positive social, economic and environmental change as an alternative to the present order. Read full paper.
Abstract: The world is not facing its first global crisis but it might be the first time that science, not politics, is expected to provide global answers to global problems. Economists are expected to find a way to put an end to poverty while ecologists are increasingly influencing global governance regimes. But is "science as usual" prepared to answer these challenges? This article argues that it is not. It shows that reductionism provides an avenue for the taking over of science by vested interests while classical empiricism, which is only at ease with closed systems, justifies that scientists never give a look at the big picture. It proposes the adoption of an alternative way to do science, which might have always existed at the margin, where science is dealing with the open systems that constitute the world and is not separated from politics, redefined in the Aristotelian sense of "science of making the good". Taking as example poverty alleviation in the rural tropics, it suggests that a shift toward this paradigm is one of the conditions for moving ahead of the neoliberal agenda and addressing the type of problems that our world is facing today, without falling into the ontological traps of post-modern cultural studies. Read full paper.
Kiyohiko Sakamoto - Spoiling governments have served their purposes? Challenges of government-led community supported agriculture (CSA) enterprises in Japan
Abstract: It can be argued that a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) employs more environmentally sound practices, maintain closer connections with communities, and thereby contribute to sustainable local economic development. Thus, in Japan CSA is gaining attention among local stakeholders, including municipal governments aspiring to reinvigorate farming economies. Our paper hence examines attempts by three municipal governments in Japan to promote CSA as pilot farming enterprise, which demonstrated mixed outcomes. Farmers with supports by the governments successfully built CSA; however, the thorough governmental supports seemingly resulted in pampering the pilot CSAs without fostering entrepreneurship needed to sustain the novel endeavor. In light of neo-liberal ideologies proliferating in Japan's political economy, the pilot cases pose challenging questions as to how the public sector should be involved in promoting "entrepreneurial" CSAs. Operations of CSAs often require independent, innovative, problem-solving capacities, which seem compatible with neo-liberal ideologies, while being ironically incompatible with the paternalistic involvement by Japanese public sectors in the farming sector. Thus, we argue, public sector's support to promote CSA should be carefully designed so as to enhance entrepreneurial capacities through, for instance, educational programs for farmers, rather than providing undue assistances to every aspect of a CSA enterprise. However, even under a neo-liberal political-economic climate some issues still require institutional assistance by public sectors, such as securing access to farmlands for CSA farmers with non-farming background. Accordingly, we conclude that an analysis of impacts of neo-liberalism in transformation of farming sectors needs careful dissection of processes and consequences of policy programs. Read full paper.
Session 6: Exploitation and Resistance in Global Agri-food
Rebecca Som Castellano - Creating rupture through policy: Considering the importance of ideas in agrifood change
This paper considers the potential rupture of the neoliberal food
regime via engagement of civil society through policy making by
analyzing the recent successful integration of Farm to School (FTS) into
the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) policy domain. Data for this
case study comes from historical review of the NSLP, including content
analysis of congressional hearings, laws, and newspaper articles, and
interviews with 15 actors employed by organizations key to contemporary
federal NLSP policy making.
Building on a political economy model by borrowing from political sociology and policy studies, I apply a theoretical framework which asserts that the historic focus on institutions and interests in policy making has led to the documentation of path dependency, under-theorizing processes of change (Andersen 2008; Padamsee 2009). This perspective encourages us to consider the interplay between interests, ideas and institutions in policy making processes in order to theorize policy change (Campbell 1998; 2002; Beland 2005). When applied to the case of the NSLP policy domain, it becomes clear that historically, less materially powerful actors have created change in the policy domain by utilizing the power of ideas, shifting the agenda for future policy making. My analysis demonstrates that this historical process has continued with the most recent legislation for the NSLP, which ensures mandatory funding of FTS for the first time. Thus, this case study documents the potential for scaling up of existing alternatives if we look to the power of ideas via the integration of alternatives in federal level policy making. Read full paper.
J. Dara Bloom- Supply Chain Governance in Supermarkets' Localized Supply Chains
No abstract submitted.
Gretchen Thompson - Food import dependency and global hunger: A food regime analysis of the 2010 global hunger index across developing countries
Abstract: Presently, over 1 billion people world-wide experience persistent hunger and the attendant danger of starvation. During the beginning of 2011 global development experts and multilateral organizations declared the onset of the world's second global food crisis in only three years (Brown 2011; United Nations 2008; World Bank 2011). Macro-comparative sociological studies of food security and hunger, have not to date quantitatively examined the impact of the global food regime in determining hunger directly, and increasingly dire social problem as indicated by the fall-out from these global food crises. Recent studies of the global food crises of 2008 and 2011 have indicated that food import dependency--a central thesis of global food regimes theorizations--is largely responsible for the increases in global hunger. Yet, this too has not been operationalized in a sociological study of hunger. The purpose of the current study is to address each of these gaps by applying a global food regime theoretical framework to a macro-comparative quantitative study, employing structural equation modeling, of hunger. This study analyzes the global hunger index (IFPRI 2010) within a global development framework indicated by world system position, while accounting for nationally mediating factors such as modernization and food import dependency. This study also controls for ecological context including approximate latitude and land area. Findings indicate that world-system position, modernization level, ecological factors, and food import dependence all have significant impacts on hunger levels. Given the role that food import dependency in national and global development strategies, these results indicate that the ideology of unfettered global integration within agricultural markets should be severely brought into question. Read full paper.
Session 7: Regulation and the Neoliberal Global Regime
Valentine Cadieux - Facilitating dialogue around contrasting models of food system theories of change: Intervention research with local food governance efforts in the context of global and neoliberal food regimes
As critical claims are made on existing food systems, newly
assembled—and aspirational—systemic configurations come into conflict
with existing ones. This research examines these conflicts, and
considers different ways that they are managed and conceptualized by the
different actors involved. In the context of local struggles with
global restructuring in resource and agri-food economies, I focus on
encounters between different modes of governance and theories of change
(as well as strategies for monitoring these), as different frames for
justifying food governance regimes collide, engage, or fail to engage.
How do people understand themselves as grappling with food
governance—and how do they see themselves changing it? This research
takes as its jumping-off point a series of studies (by the Frameworks
Institute via a Kellogg project in 2005) documenting the problematic
tendency, consistent with neoliberal ideology, "when confronted with
clear systemic cues … [to not] imagine changing the system," but rather
retreat to stances of escape or devolved responsibility—the problematic
possibilities of self-control and self-sufficiency in the face of global
I build my argument out of engagement over the past four years with a multi-layered and scaled research site in the upper Midwest, involving a series of facilitated conversations and participant observations at a land grant university around the explicit topic of how to conceptualize food systems (particularly at the intersection of "feeding the world" discourses and discourses critical of mainstream agri-food, including food justice, food security, local food governance, and global agri-food aid strands), and including a partnership of that university with a public food system planning initiative organized largely by people critical of mainstream agri-food and attempting to muster new governance regimes to better align producer and consumer needs in the region. Read full paper.
Abstract: Recently, there have been a number of food sovereignty laws popping up in jurisdictions across the country. These laws are generally focused on exempting certain transactions between farmers and consumers from state and federal regulations. Setting aside the legal validity of these laws, this paper seeks to explore the narratives being written by their enactment. The narratives are of bringing farmers' natural property rights and expectations in line with regulatory constraints and also are of consumers using the political process to work towards a more localized food and economic system. These narratives represent a paradigm shift in consumers' willingness to accept the regime status quo and present a potential democratic solution to the current administrative state of food and agriculture regulation. Read full paper.
Devparna Roy - To Bt or not to Bt? State, civil society, and firms debate GM crops in democratic India
Abstract: While there is intellectual consensus that India's democracy has been largely successful, some scholars have dismissed India as a "failed' developmental state. They argue that especially since 1991, the central government's power and developmental role have greatly weakened. What is the meaning of "democratic developmentalism" in the post-1991 context? Does introduction of genetically modified (GM) seed technology further debilitate the developmental role of the democratic state? Can nine years of experience with Bt cotton in India enlighten our understanding of the politics of Bt brinjal today? In this paper, I discuss the history of state intervention in the seed sector in India, especially during the Green Revolution. Next, I compare the roles of the central state during two GM crop episodes, using concepts of governmentality, hegemony, and food sovereignty. I argue that because of certain features of India's civil society, the central state ceded power to cotton farmers and seed corporations during the Bt cotton debate; however, the central state may have regained power over brinjal farmers and seed firms during the Bt brinjal debate. In this paper, I highlight the current struggles between state, civil society and seed companies over intellectual property (IP) when it comes to the two GM crops. In conclusion, I reflect on implications of a reinvigorated developmental state for Indian farmers and other stakeholders in Bt crop debates. Read full paper.Note: All photos on this site were borrowed using a Google Image search. To see the original photo location and photo credits, click on the photo.