Abstract: Agriculture stands as the foundation of modern human societies. Any changes in social functioning should seriously consider how to guarantee people a proper supply of food, in terms of both quantity and quality. Degrowth is a movement that aims at achieving a radical change in the societal metabolism of societies, toward a more frugal, sustainable and convivial lifestyle. The movement envisages a society where concepts as sharing, conviviality, care, commons, justice could stand at its foundation, and replace the call for economic growth, which is, obviously, biophysically unsustainable. This paper aims to (1) review how agriculture has been addressed within the degrowth discourse, (2) analyse the relation between agriculture and societal metabolism and its relevance from a degrowth perspective, (3) discuss how different agricultural techniques and technologies may represent appropriate technologies (sensu Schumacher, 1973), and meet the call for conviviality (sensu Illich, 1975). The latter point focusses on a comparison between organic agriculture (OA, which bans the use of agrochemicals and Genetically Modified Organisms – GMOs) and biotech-based agriculture (BTA, reliant on GMOs). The paper points out that although many relevant socioeconomic, political and environmental issues have been addressed by degrowth scholars, agriculture is still poorly analysed. Recommendations are made with regard to studying possible alternative transition paths, by assessing their impact on society’s structure and functioning. It is argued that “conviviality” and “appropriate technology” concepts are rather complex and multifaceted. Therefore, different practices might be considered convivial and appropriate under some criteria, and not under others. With regard to conviviality, organic agriculture might not fully respond to the call for autonomy. Notwithstanding claims made by GMOs supporters, BTA does neither suit the call for appropriate technology, nor represent a convivial tool under any criteria.
A response to the paper by Bartosz Bartkowski: “Degrowth, organic agriculture and GMOs: A reply to Gomiero“.