Democratizing agricultural planning in New Mexico : a participatory model

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2009-05

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Abstract

Rural areas of New Mexico still exhibit post-colonial political patterns. In terms of its agricultural profile, subsistence farming has only recently (in the past generation) begun to give way to highly specialized, big-business farming interests. Older Hispanic and Pueblo communities struggle to maintain their farming traditions in the face of external economic factors. Now, with the increasing use of genetically-modified seeds on major farm operations and the ongoing development of a transgenic chile seed, a heritage crop, these populations are grappling with intellectual property issues and ecological implications that technological manipulation of native seeds bring. Other growers across the state also have serious concerns about their ability to grow crops from non-genetically modified seeds, as consumers have shown a preference for organic, non-genetically modified foods. Using the guiding analytical tools of Latour and Callon's Actor Network Theory (ANT), I assess the dynamics of power and influence among all agricultural stakeholders to find how a network of disparate elements can achieve “compromise among materially diverse elements” (Rutland and Aylett 2008). This work outlines a framework based on deliberative democratic principles to begin a participatory process that builds upon the disconnected agricultural network of New Mexico. A deliberative process enfranchises previously neglected stakeholders to develop an agricultural policy that deals with genetically engineered crops in a way that reflects the values and goals of the public.

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