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Climate change and the transgenic adaptation strategy : smallholder livelihoods, climate justice, and maize landraces in Mexico

By: Mercer, K.L.
Contributor(s): Perales, H.R | Wainwright, J.D.
Material type: materialTypeLabelArticlePublisher: Amsterdam (Netherlands) : Elsevier, 2012ISSN: 0959-3780.Subject(s): Climate change | Maize | Transgenic plants | Agriculture | Climate change adaptation | MexicoOnline resources: Access only for CIMMYT staff In: Global Environmental Change v. 22, n. 2, p. 495-504Summary: Climate change will affect agricultural production by subsistence farms in crop centers of origin, where landraces are conserved in situ. Various strategies for adaptation to climate change have been proposed. In this paper we examine the prospects of what we call the ‘transgenic adaptation strategy’, i.e. the appeal to use transgenic seeds to adapt to climate change, through the lens of smallholder maize farming in Mexico. Landraces are the bedrock of maize production in Mexico. We consider how maize farmers may respond to climate change and the effects of those responses on crop diversity. In this paper, we argue that the promotion of the transgenic adaptation strategy is problematic for biological and social reasons. Smallholder livelihoods in southern Mexico could suffer a disproportionate negative impact if transgenic technology is privileged as a response to climate change. Agroecological and evolutionary approaches to addressing the effects of climate change on smallholder agriculture provides an alternative adaptive strategy.
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Article CIMMYT Knowledge Center: John Woolston Library

Lic. Jose Juan Caballero Flores

 

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Climate change will affect agricultural production by subsistence farms in crop centers of origin, where landraces are conserved in situ. Various strategies for adaptation to climate change have been proposed. In this paper we examine the prospects of what we call the ‘transgenic adaptation strategy’, i.e. the appeal to use transgenic seeds to adapt to climate change, through the lens of smallholder maize farming in Mexico. Landraces are the bedrock of maize production in Mexico. We consider how maize farmers may respond to climate change and the effects of those responses on crop diversity. In this paper, we argue that the promotion of the transgenic adaptation strategy is problematic for biological and social reasons. Smallholder livelihoods in southern Mexico could suffer a disproportionate negative impact if transgenic technology is privileged as a response to climate change. Agroecological and evolutionary approaches to addressing the effects of climate change on smallholder agriculture provides an alternative adaptive strategy.

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