Friday, October 15, 2010

Like Pigs at the Trough: Constructing the Brazil-China-soy-pork Commodity Complex

Please join us for the 3rd IPE Brown Bag talk, as Prof. Emelie Peine discusses her summer research in China at Noon on Weds Oct 20 in WSC 101.

China produces and consumes nearly half of all the world’s pork. Since the 1990s, China has seen a dramatic shift in the way that pork is produced, moving from a small-farmer model to an industrialized confinement model. This has dramatically increased China’s demand for animal feedstock, namely soybeans. In response, Brazil—the largest soy exporter in the world—is now shipping nearly half of its soybeans to China every year. This marks the emergence of a new commodity complex, as supply and demand flows are shifting from North-North routes between the US and EU to South-South routes between Asia and Latin America. However, many of the same agents of international agricultural trade—here MNCs like Cargill and ADM—remain gatekeepers in this new system. This project seeks to understand whether or not this shift in trade flows constitutes new challenges for transnational capital, or whether these firms are able to successfully adapt to a new trading landscape. We pursue this inquiry through an analysis of the emerging Brazil-China-soy-pork commodity complex and its implications for multinational agribusiness.

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