Agribusiness versus ecosystem services: the consequences to peasants and indigenous peoples of a no-win struggle between profit and planetary boundaries in the Brazilian Amazon

Wanderley dos Reis Nascimento Junior, Matheus Monteiro Alves


This paper aims to investigate challenges imposed by the disproportional political influence of the agribusiness sector to the applicability of pro-poor environmental policies and defense of ecosystem services in Brazil. The literature review of selected reports critically assessing contrasting perspectives on development within the agribusiness versus ecosystem services paradigm will be the method used. From Rostow’s modernization theory to Escobar post-development thinking, the paper will also include inclusive development theory and the indigenous cosmovision worldview. It is argued that the political influence of the agribusiness poses a global threat. The consequences of agribusiness expansion are not limited to human rights abuses and increase in the struggle of peasant and indigenous peoples in the Amazon. When considered the mentioned environmental costs and backwardness towards climate change mitigation, the consequences turn out to be global. And while the vulnerability of the poor may be exacerbated by the effects of climate change, we are still walking towards a no-win situation. Thus, the more agriculture expands in the Amazon, the less productive it will become, and in this situation, we all lose.

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