"Name your poison": the discursive construction of chemical-use as everyday farming practice

Lockie, Stewart (2001) "Name your poison": the discursive construction of chemical-use as everyday farming practice. In: Lockie, Stewart, and Pritchard, Bill, (eds.) Consuming Foods, Sustaining Environments. Australian Academic Press, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, pp. 140-157.

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[Extract] The burgeoning use of agricultural chemicals is held by many to be responsible for widespread ecological damage and a plethora of public health problems (see van den Bosch, 1978; Carson, 1962; Fagin et al., 1996; McHugh, 1996; Shon, 1994; Steingraber, 1997). Consumer concerns about the potential effects of chemical residues in foods have contributed to rapid growth in sales for organically grown produce (Dumaresq and Greene, 1997; Hudson, 1996) and to demands by retailers for the introduction of complicated systems of Quality Assurance designed to minimise food-borne risks to consumers (Lockie, 1998). Even research with so-called "conventional" farmers has revealed deep-seated unease about chemical-use and a preference for its reduction (Lockie, 1997a; Lockie et al., 1995). Despite this, between 1977-78 and 1990-91, chemical- use on Australian farms rose by a factor of approximately two point five, while fuel and fertiliser use remained relatively stable and capital expenditure declined (Knopke & Harris, 1991). The all too obvious question is why? The answer is rather less so, but is commonly associated with the declining terms of trade faced by farmers and a subsequent need to boost productivity (Knopke & Harris, 1991), along with the seemingly more tangible environmental benefits of pest control and soil conservation offered by chemical-use (Barr & Cary, 1992). Sociologists, on the other hand, have pointed variously to a "technological treadmill" of industrialised capitalist agriculture and an accelerating transfer of control over on-farm decision making towards off-farm capital (Lawrence, 1987). Either way, farmers have been seen to have little choice if they are to remain viable but to continually intensify their production through ever-increasing use of off-farm inputs, including chemicals.

Item ID: 31249
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-875378-33-3
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Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2014 02:09
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160804 Rural Sociology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960403 Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960504 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Environments @ 50%
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