European agroecological practices: Tensions around neo-productivist agendas

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Agroecology has three practical forms – a scientific discipline, agricultural practices and social movements. Their integration has provided a collective-action mode for contesting the dominant agro-food regime and creating alternatives, especially through a linkage with food sovereignty. At the same time, agroecological practices have been recently adopted by some actors who also promote conventional agriculture. Such practices can play different roles – either fitting the dominant regime, or else helping to transform it. Tensions between those roles arise from a ‘sustainable intensification’ agenda, which has been theorized as a neo-productivist paradigm, newly linking global-market competitiveness with environmental protection. European tensions between ‘fit versus transform’ roles arise in several areas of agricultural policy – subsidy, innovation and research. Opportunities for transformative research lie especially in three areas: farm-level agroecosystems development, participatory plant breeding, and short food-supply chains remunerating agroecological methods. To play a transformative role, collaborative strategies need to go beyond the linear stereotype whereby scientists ‘transfer’ technology or farmers ‘apply’ scientific research results. To the extent that farmer-scientist alliances co-create and exchange knowledge, such gains can transform the research system.

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Verlag DLG-Verlag
  
  
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