Genetically modified soy production and small farmer resistance in San Pedro, Paraguay : finding space for dialogue in an overly-politicized agricultural landscape
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Paraguay has a long history of foreign involvement in its rural economy, dating back to even before the War of the Triple Alliance in the 1880’s. Whether it was yerba mate production or timber extraction, Paraguay’s rural activities were largely funded and run by foreign interests, with little room for participation by smallholders. With the growth in production of Genetically Modified (GM) soy, Paraguay continues to follow the same model for development, one of export-oriented agriculture produced primarily with foreign capital. The expansion GM soy in San Pedro, Paraguay is meeting with considerable resistance, though, as smallholders and landless workers claim that the use of the broad spectrum herbicide, glyphosate, threatens their health, land and livelihoods. The contentious debate that has sprung up around this issue has polarized Paraguayan society and oversimplified the problems facing Paraguay’s rural development society. The over-politicization of the conflict has eliminated the space for nuance in finding solutions and room for dialogue.