IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The sticky materiality of neo-liberal neonatures: GMOs and the agrarian question


  • Myles Carroll


This article uses Marxist theories of agrarian capitalism to explore the political economy of genetically modified organisms (GMO) agriculture. It argues that the successes and failures of GMO agriculture have been partly circumscribed by the structural requirements of the capitalist system, as well as by the materiality of GMO crops themselves. Successful innovations have been able to mitigate the material barriers to accumulation found in agricultural production, and thus appeal directly to farmers as comparatively profitable capital inputs. In this way, they cohere with David Goodman’s notion of appropriationism, where manufactured capital inputs (such as pesticides, machinery and fertilisers) replace ‘natural’ inputs (such as manure or draft animals), reducing labour time and biological contingency, and thus creating a competitive advantage for those farmers who adopt the new technology (at least temporarily). Conversely, innovations that are geared at consumers rather than farmers have largely failed due to their status as value-added products (whose value is subjective and market-driven) rather than capital goods. The article uses contrasting case studies of herbicide-tolerant soybeans, beta-keratin-enhanced rice and slow-ripening tomatoes to demonstrate how and why the structural imperatives of global capitalism have enabled the success of some, and the failure of other innovations.

Suggested Citation

  • Myles Carroll, 2017. "The sticky materiality of neo-liberal neonatures: GMOs and the agrarian question," New Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(2), pages 203-218, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:cnpexx:v:22:y:2017:i:2:p:203-218
    DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2016.1214696

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel W. Drezner, 2007. "Bringing the Great Powers Back In, from All Politics Is Global: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes," Introductory Chapters,in: All Politics Is Global: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes Princeton University Press.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:cnpexx:v:22:y:2017:i:2:p:203-218. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.