Agrofuels capitalism: a view from political economy
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This article considers the global expansion of agrofuels feedstock production from a political economy perspective. It considers and dismisses the environmental and pro-poor developmental justifications attached to agrofuels. To local populations and direct producers, the specific destination of the crop as fuel, food, cosmetics or other final uses in faraway places is probably of less interest than the forms of (direct or indirect) appropriation of their land and the forms of their insertion or exclusion as producers in global commodity chains. Global demand for both agrofuels and food is stimulating new forms (or the resurgence of old forms) of corporate land grabbing and expropriation, and of incorporation of smallholders in contracted production. Drawing both on recent studies on agrofuels expansion and on the political economy literature on agrarian transition and capitalism in agriculture, this article raises the question whether 'agrofuels capitalism' is in any way essentially different from other forms of capitalist agrarian monocrop production, and in turn whether the agrarian transitions involved require new tools of analysis.