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Endangered Maize: Industrial Agriculture and the Crisis of Extinction

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Fleur Nash.

Many people worry that we’re losing genetic diversity in the foods we eat. Over the past century, crop varieties standardized for industrial agriculture have increasingly dominated farm fields. Concerned about what this transition means for the future of food, scientists, farmers, and eaters have sought to protect fruits, grains, and vegetables they consider endangered. They have organized high-tech genebanks and heritage seed swaps. They have combed fields for ancient landraces and sought farmers growing Indigenous varieties. Behind this widespread concern for the loss of plant diversity lies another extinction narrative that concerns the survival of farmers themselves, a story that is often obscured by urgent calls to collect and preserve. My book Endangered Maize, on which this talk is based, draws on the rich history of corn in Mexico and the United States to uncover this hidden narrative and show how it shaped the conservation strategies adopted by scientists, states, and citizens.

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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