Ryan Gunderson, Michigan State University, published “The Metabolic Rifts of Livestock Agribusiness” on October 19th, 2011 in Organization & Environment’s OnlineFirst section. You can read other OnlineFirst articles here.
Massive structural, geographic, and socioeconomic transformations have taken place in livestock production since the mid-20th century. Drawing from Marx’s theory of metabolic rift, as developed by John Bellamy Foster and others, this article examines the recent structural changes in relation to global carbon, nitrogen, and water cycling. The authors argue that the environmental consequences of large-scale, intensive, industrial livestock production are a result of capitalism’s relentless drive for self-accumulation and, consequently, a socialist alternative must be explored to heal the ecological ruptures between (a) livestock and the land and (b) society from both livestock and the land. Insights from local food projects and the animal rights movement have pointed the way to a more rational, ethical, and sustainable future.
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