Capitalism in Green Disguise

The Political Economy of Organic Farming in the European Union
01 January 2013
Paper

Organic farming is often presented as the success story of Rural Development policies in the European Union, having grown from a marginal activity to covering more than 5% of European agricultural land. Even though organic farming is often thought of as small-scale farming, I show that organic farms in Europe display characteristics associated with capitalist agriculture.

Organic farming is often presented as the success story of Rural Development policies in the European Union, having grown from a marginal activity to covering more than 5% of European agricultural land. Even though organic farming is often thought of as small-scale farming, I show that organic farms in Europe display characteristics associated with capitalist agriculture. Organic farms are larger and more mechanized than conventional farms. Furthermore, organic farms are associated with wage-labor and use less labor per hectare than their conventional counterparts, casting doubt on the efficacy of organic farming in increasing labor demand in marginalized communities and acting as an effective tool for keeping rural residents in the countryside. These results present us with evidence of the “conventionalization” of organic farming, and with another instance of “green-washing” of capitalist structures of production.

Charalampos Konstantinidis is an Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Charalampos (Harry) Konstantinidis’s primary research interests lie at the intersection of political economy and ecological economics. His recent work has examined the socio-economic and environmental dimensions of the growth of organic farming in the European Union, as well as the inverse relationship between farm size and productivity in rural Kenya.

Food Sovereignty: a critical dialogue, 14 - 15 September, New Haven.