Food, Farms, and Solidarity

French Farmers Challenge Industrial Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops

Food, Farms, and Solidarity

New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century

More about this series

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: Published: January 2013

Author: Chaia Heller

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies > Food Studies, Environmental Studies

The Confédération Paysanne, one of France's largest farmers' unions, has successfully fought against genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but unlike other allied movements, theirs has been led by producers rather than consumers. In Food, Farms, and Solidarity, Chaia Heller analyzes the group's complex strategies and campaigns, including a call for a Europe-wide ban on GM crops and hormone-treated beef, and a protest staged at a McDonald's. Her study of the Confédération Paysanne shows the challenges small farms face in a postindustrial agricultural world. Heller also reveals how the language the union uses to argue against GMOs encompasses more than the risks they pose; emphasizing solidarity has allowed farmers to focus on food as a cultural practice and align themselves with other workers. Heller's examination of the Confédération Paysanne's commitment to a vision of alter-globalization, the idea of substantive alternatives to neoliberal globalization, demonstrates how ecological and social justice can be restored in the world.


“[Heller’s] engaging book contains many insights into the surprisingly divergent fates of French and U.S. agricultural interest groups. . . . [H]er tale of earthy farmers becoming postmodern ideological entrepreneurs makes for fun reading.” — Andrew Moravcsik, Foreign Affairs

“Heller’s dramatic narrative tells a story filled with intimate anecdotes and colorful characters...making a rather complex history of farmers’ unions and French agricultural policy come alive while sustaining her readers’ interest.” — A. B. Audant, Choice

“This book presents a fascinating and in-depth case study of a French agricultural union, the Confederation paysanne, surveying its history, ideology, leadership, and political activism...this is a highly original, insightful, and exhaustively researched account that presents in fine detail one of the key battle lines of our time.” — Sarah Waters, French History

“Heller has written a wonderful ethnography that I find highly engaging in terms of the logic of capitalist food production under the political auspices of neoliberalism. Her book is an important contribution to food studies and anthropological theory.” — Robert C. Ulin, American Ethnologist

"Ultimately, Heller makes a significant contribution with this study to social movement discourses and union organization in addition to food justice and environmental issues." — Pamela Tudge, Left History

"Food, Farms, and Solidarity provides a deep and fascinating case study of Confédération Paysanne and contemporary struggles over agricultural biotechnology and food sovereignty.... Heller’s ethnographic approach makes for a compelling and accessible read, and the book would be appropriate for a topical course on food studies or social movements at the advanced undergraduate or graduate level."   — Christopher R. Henke, Contemporary Sociology

"Food, Farms and Solidarity: French Farmers Challenge Industrial Agriculture and Genetically Modified Crops is an engaging ethnographic study…. The work stands as a valuable case study for social movement scholars and political ecology anthropologists." — Patricia A. Stapleton, Agriculture and Human Values

"Food, Farms, and Solidarity is an excellent study of one of the most fascinating social movements of the contemporary era and its struggle against GM crops. Academics and activists interested in agrarian, environmental, and food justice issues as well as (trans)national social movements should read this book." — Saturnino M. Borras Jr., coeditor of Transnational Agrarian Movements Confronting Globalization

"Chaia Heller makes a compelling argument about a set of very important topics in the food/environment arena. Given the continued relevance of those topics, the prominence of the main protagonists of the story in the international scene, and the engaging writing style, the book should be of interest to a broad audience of students, academics, NGO people, and activists." — Arturo Escobar, author of Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Chaia Heller is Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of The Ecology of Everyday Life: Rethinking the Desire for Nature.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series ix
Acknowledgments xi
1. Introduction: Creating a New Rationality of Agriculture in a Postindustrial World 1
Part I. Toward a New Rationality of Agriculture
2. The New Paysan Movements: French Industrialized Agriculture and the Rise of the Postindustrial Paysan 39
3. The Confédération Paysanne: Philosophy, Structure, and Constituency 69
Part II. The Confédération Paysanne's Early Anti-GMO Campaign, from Risk to Globalization
4. Union Activism and Programs: Early Campaigns and Paysan Agriculture 89
5. We Have Always Been Modern: Toward a Progressive Anti-GMO Campaign 112
6. The Trial of the GMOs: Deploying Discourses from Risk to Globalization 137
Part III. How France Grew Its Own Antiglobalization Movement
7. Caravans, GMOs, and McDo: The Campaign Continues 163
8. Operation Roquefort, Part I: Traveling to Washington, DC 198
9. Operation Roquefort, Part II: The Battle of Seattle 221
10. Postindustrial Paysans in a Post-Seattle World: New Movements, New Possibilities 248
11. Conclusion: French Lessons; What's to Be Learned 291
Notes 307
Works Cited 311
Index 323
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5127-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5118-4
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