Publication date: 01/08/2020


This article analyzes the rise of precision technologies for agriculture—specifically digital farming and plant genome editing—and their implications for the politics of environmental sustainability in the agrifood sector. We map out opposing views in the emerging debate over the environmental aspects of these technologies: while proponents see them as vital tools for environmental sustainability, critics view them as antithetical to their own agroecological vision of sustainable agriculture. We argue that key insights from the broader literature on the social effects of technological change—in particular, technological lock-in, the double-edged nature of technology, and uneven power relations—help to explain the political dynamics of this debate. Our analysis highlights the divergent perspectives regarding how these technologies interact with environmental problems, as well as the risks and opportunities they present. Yet, as we argue in the article, developments so far suggest that these dynamics are not always straightforward in practice.

Resource type: article: Web Page