The Struggle for Maize: Campesinos, Workers, and Transgenic Corn in the Mexican Countryside

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-12-10
  • Publisher: Duke Univ Pr

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When scientists discovered transgenes in local Mexican corn varieties in 2001, their findings intensified a debate about not only the import of genetically modified (GM) maize into Mexico, but also the fate of the peasantry under neoliberal globalization. While the controversy initially focused on the extent to which gene flow from transgenic to local varieties threatens maize biodiversity, anti-GM activists emphasized the cultural significance of the crop in Mexico and demanded the inclusion of campesino and consumer voices in the creation of GM maize and rural policies. In The Struggle for Maize, Elizabeth Fitting explores the competing claims of the GM corn debate in relation to the livelihood struggles of small-scale maize producers, migrants, and maquiladora workers from the southern Tehuacán Valley. She argues that the region's biodiversity is affected by state policies that seek to transform campesinos into entrepreneurs and push rural residents into transnational labor migration. While corn production and a campesino identity remain important to an older generation, younger residents seek out wage labor in maquiladoras and the United States and have little knowledge or interest in maize agriculture. Fitting's ethnography illustrates how agricultural producers and their families creatively respond to economic hardship and Mexico's "neoliberal corn regime," which prioritizes market liberalization, agricultural "efficiency," and the reduction of state services over domestic maize production and food sovereignty.

Table of Contents

List of Tablesp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
List of Abbreviationsp. xv
Introduction: The Struggle for Mexican Maizep. 1
Debatesp. 33
Transgenic Maize and Its Expertsp. 35
Corn and the Hybrid Nationp. 75
Livelihoodsp. 117
Community and Conflictp. 120
Remaking the Countrysidep. 155
From Campesinos to Migrant and Maquila Workers?p. 197
Conclusionp. 230
Appendix: Producer Interviews, 2001-2002p. 239
Notesp. 249
Glossaryp. 265
Bibliographyp. 271
Indexp. 293
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