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Producing soy to save the planet? : Challenging sustainable soy governance in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado.

Gresham, Jennifer Daisy (2018) Producing soy to save the planet? : Challenging sustainable soy governance in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Collaborations between corporate actors and environmental NGOs are an increasingly common means for agri-food companies to enact sustainability objectives. Taking a comparative case study approach, this research examines two such initiatives from the soy industry, the Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS) and the Soy Moratorium. Previous literature has assessed both in terms of their success in reducing land use change in the Brazilian Amazon. This thesis takes a different stance, analysing how their design and implementation relate to the agricultural production of soy and its associated consumption patterns. Based on documentary analysis and qualitative interviews with key stakeholders, the thesis finds that NGO conservation campaigns against soy in the Amazon were the main driver of both case studies, leading them to focus on developing biodiversity protection programmes. However, as this research shows, the consensus amongst stakeholders on this issue is currently challenged on two fronts. Firstly, by splits between actors who advocate greater state involvement and those supportive of continued private interventions, and secondly, between actors who wish to expand biodiversity protection to the Cerrado savannahs and those who favour limiting it to the Amazon. In these evolving dynamics, the proliferation of 'zero- deforestation' agreements are revealed as particularly important to the direction of policymaking. From these findings, the challenges faced by both alliances are shown to indicate wider sustainability problems that each initiative has failed to address. Employing Thomas Princen's concept of 'distancing', this research argues that a biodiversity bias in their design means that soy is primarily problematised only as a conservation issue, while its other environmental impacts (particularly its consumption through livestock feedstock) are marginalised. It concludes by reflecting on the limitations of non-state actors, often constrained by supply chain approaches, in tackling the multi-dimensional ecological risks posed by soy production and consumption.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Jennifer Gresham
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2018 10:29
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2018 10:29

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