Uneven geographies of pesticide production, trade and use

Making herbicide markets: Interactions between production restructuring, agriculture and environment in Latin America and Asia

Swiss National Science Foundation, 2022-2026

Pesticide use has increased at a faster rate than any other global environmental change agent over the past two decades. One major driver of this change is the “herbicide revolution” happening widely across developing countries. High labor costs for manual weeding, wider adoption of herbicide-resistant seeds, and access to low-cost generics increase the adoption of agrochemicals. This project, led by Christian Berndt and Marion Werner, engages with the herbicide revolution by analyzing the quickly restructuring global agrochemical industry, which is increasingly organized through geographically dispersed, yet functionally integrated supply chains. The main objective is to analyze herbicides as drivers of both economic and ecological change by questioning the role of emerging market generic production networks as they relate to farming and labor practices as well as environmental impacts in Latin America and Asia. 

This project has three inter-related objectives: first, to understand the making of herbicide markets in light of chemical dependence, declining effectiveness and environmental feedback loops; second, to position these environmental challenges in the context of global production networks (GPNs) of important synthetic herbicides, emphasizing the relationship between Latin America and Asia; and third, to study selected emerging economy herbicide assemblages and how these relations reflect and reshape environmental regulations and economic strategies in Latin America.

Starting date: 1 September 2022