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The San Joaquin Valley in California is the most agriculturally productive farmland in the United States, but it is also plagued by high levels of poverty and water pollution as well as the serious health risks that come with constant exposure to pesticides. These huge corporate farms in California, established over the last century, became the model for modern agrobusiness designed to exploit a transient labor force, bankrupt, and seize small family farms, exhaust the soil, and drain the aquifers and reservoirs. These agrobusiness use their economic might to buy elected officials, deform the court system to legalize their assault on the land and silence criticism in academia and the press. They are largely unregulated and unaccountable. The disastrous consequences for family farms and farmworkers, plagued by extreme poverty, a retreat into often lethal addictions to blunt the pain of dislocation and suicides, however, is only part of the destruction wrought by these industrial farms. These agrobusinesses have, as the authors Daniel J. O’Connell and Scott J. Peters argue in their book In the Struggle: Scholars and the Fight Against Industrial Agribusiness in California, eroded the bedrock of democracy itself. The authors look at the fight by eight scholars who foresaw and fought the agribusinesses, most of whom were attacked, censored, and marginalized for their critiques.
Daniel J. O’Connell and Scott J. Peters’ new book is In the Struggle: Scholars and the Fight Against Industrial Agribusiness in California.
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