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The political economy of the agrochemical complex in China

February 21 @ 9:15 am - 11:00 am

By Yunan Xu (International Institute of Social Studies)

Online webinar & in-person seminar, at and jointly hosted with International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague

21 February, 10:15 am – 12:00 pm Netherlands time / 5:15 pm – 7:00 pm China time / 9:15 am – 11:00 pm UK time

Webinar recording available here: https://youtu.be/0JDJ0u73xCk

Agriculture is increasingly based on the intensive use of agrochemicals (e.g., pesticides). The accelerated growth of the agrochemical sector subjects agriculture to the cycles and interests of extractive capitalism, while its expanded use leads to soil depletion and deepened commodification. Critical questions such as how – and how much – agrochemicals are used in agriculture and who controls the process are closely linked to the future of global food systems and planetary health (including concerns about environmental degradation and health risks). Understanding the global agrochemical complex is, therefore, crucial to finding a path to sustainability.

After decades of intensification, China is now the major, if not the largest (due to incomplete global datasets), producer, exporter and consumer of agrochemicals. Untangling the political economy of agrochemicals in China and China’s presence in the global agrochemicals market is paramount. Chinese companies, particularly large state-owned enterprises, are taking the lead in the global agrochemical market through a series of mergers and acquisitions, while China’s ability to benefit from interlocking markets could consolidate its international position. This study provides a systematic overview of the development of the agrochemical sector in China, highlighting gaps and blind spots in current research and calling for a more comprehensive framework to understand the political economy of agrochemicals from historical and relational perspectives.

About the presenter

Yunan Xu is a post-doctoral researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam. She currently works for a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant awarded project ‘Commodity & Land Rushes and Regimes: Reshaping Five Spheres of Global Social Life (RRUSHES-5)’. Her research experience and interest revolve around the agri-food system and land governance with a ‘China-global interconnection’ lens. She has published a monograph on industrial tree plantation in China by Routledge and journal articles in many journals including the Journal of Peasant Studies, Geoforum, Land Use Policy, Agricultural and Human Value, Journal of Cleaner Production, and Third World Quarterly.

This webinar is part of the Spring 2024 Agrarian Change Seminar Series.

Image by jcomp on Freepik


February 21
9:15 am - 11:00 am


Hybrid (Online & In-person)


Journal of Agrarian Change
International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague