Andrea Vogler

Date of Defense



Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Sybil Rhodes


Globally the amount of land used for organic, or ecological, agriculture is increasing dramatically, and one-fifth of the world's organic production is taking place in Latin America. At first glance, this shift in agricultural production might be solely attributed to driving market forces as the demand for organic products in Europe and North America continues to rise, along with neo-liberal policies aimed at freeing the Latin American markets. However, while American and European consumers demand "luxury" organic products such as coffee and chocolate, the fact that organic food production is also increasing rapidly suggests that other causes may be driving this agricultural production trend. In this paper I look at one of these potential causes. Across Latin America leftist social movements and political parties are picking up the banner of organic agriculture, not as a niche market phenomenon, but as an alternative agricultural production system based on collective property ownership, cultural identity, and rural empowerment through the attainment of food security.

In this paper I will explore the causes for the growth organic agriculture in Latin America by analyzing it through three distinct country profiles: Mexico's traditional indigenous agriculture, Brazil's grassroots activism and Cuba's national policies. I have chosen three distinct case studies to show that the impetus behind the increase in ecological agriculture in Latin America can not be explained by market forces alone, but that a multitude of factors, historic, political, cultural, and social, are driving this trend. These cases also suggest that the growth of organic agriculture in Latin America is a result of the increasing disillusionment with neo-liberal policies.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only