Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 655–663 | Cite as

Silenced voices, vital arguments: smallholder farmers in the Mexican GM maize controversy

  • Susana Carro-Ripalda
  • Marta Astier


Smallholder producers are the collective most likely to be affected by the introduction of GMOs globally, yet the least included in public debates and consultation about the development, implementation or regulation of this agricultural biotechnology. Why are the voices and arguments of smallholder farmers being excluded from national and international GM debates and regulation? In this article, we identify barriers which prevent smallholder farmers in Mexico from having a voice in public political, economic, scientific and social fori regarding the GM maize controversy. Through the analysis of empirical data from a case study in Mexico, we identify political, institutional, economic and ontological reasons that lie behind that exclusion. We conclude with an appraisal of smallholder farmers’ perspectives on GM maize and their visions of Mexico’s rural future, within which they demand a meaningful and rightful space.


Smallholder farmers Excluded voices GM controversy in Mexico Socio-cultural, political and economic arguments in GM debates Agricultural futures 



We appreciate the financial assistance provided by a John Templeton Foundation grant entitled, “Understanding the social, cultural and religious factors that shape the acceptance, use and resistance to GM crops: a comparative approach.”


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  2. 2.Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía AmbientalUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico

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