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Inequality, Democracy, and the Environment$
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Liam Downey

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479850723

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479850723.001.0001

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Modern Agriculture and the Environment

Modern Agriculture and the Environment

(p.115) 4 Modern Agriculture and the Environment
Inequality, Democracy, and the Environment

Liam Downey

NYU Press

This chapter examines how modern agriculture causes social and environmental harm by focusing on eight organizational, institutional, and network-based mechanisms used by economic and political elites in the United States to achieve agriculture industry goals. It first considers some of the most serious social and environmental crises associated with modern, industrial agriculture before explaining how the global agricultural industry has been structured simultaneously by the eight undemocratic and elite-controlled organizations and mechanisms. These mechanisms include oligopoly and oligopsony power in agricultural commodity chains; liberalized agricultural trade; expansive property rights protections; free trade agreements that promote corporate-friendly property rights protections and liberalized agricultural trade; decision making rules at the World Trade Organization that provide the United States (and Europe) with overwhelming advantages during WTO negotiations.

Keywords:   modern agriculture, environmental harm, elites, environmental crises, elite-controlled organizations, oligopoly power, agricultural commodity chains, free trade agreements, property rights, World Trade Organization

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