From Standard to Region-specific Monocrops
Localizing Industrial Agriculture through Microbes’ Taste of Place
Industrial agriculture has promoted the expansion of monocrops around the world, aided by the circulation of highly standardized plant varieties. However, given the adverse environmental effects of this agricultural approach (such as genetic erosion) and the challenges posed by climate change, some biotech companies are trying to complexify industrial agriculture’s relationship to “place”. They are beginning to consider local particularities in the design of seed products. Focusing on the experience of an Argentinian biotech company, this article explores the creation of microbial seed treatments that claim to be “region-specific” and whose production is mediated by novel meta-genomic techniques. Through the notions of association and mediation, the article reflects on the diverse meanings of region-specificity (geographical, environmental, relational) that are mobilized in the creation of these products. In this way, the article highlights the role of computational technologies, plants, and microorganisms in the shaping of scientific and corporate meanings of place.