All posts by hstokes

New Policy Report

New policy report just released: “Growing agrichemical ubiquity: New questions for environments and health” by Annie Shattuck, Marion Werner, Christian Berndt, Becky Mansfield, and Ryan Galt, available here.

In the last 20 years, agrichemical use has increased significantly around the world. Dramatic changes in the global pesticide industry are restructuring trade patterns, driving down costs, and making agrichemicals more affordable across the global South. The result is a global pesticide complex that touches more people than ever, while its impacts become decreasingly legible on public health and the environment. The herbicide glyphosate, made famous under the brand name Roundup and increasingly sold as a generic, is a major force in this change. Marketed as a benign substance despite substantial evidence of human health harms (IARC 2017), glyphosate has become a pervasive agrichemical used on record-setting amounts of land. Overall, changes in the pesticide industry, underpinned by skyrocketing demand for glyphosate and other pesticides, is ushering in a new era of agrichemical ubiquity. Understanding these recent changes is crucial to forming an updated global environmental health research and policy agenda.

New Publication

New article just published: “The glyphosate assemblage: Herbicides, uneven development, and chemical geographies of ubiquity” by Marion Werner, Christian Berndt, and Becky Mansfield, available here.

The ubiquity of chemicals demands new ways of thinking about human–nature assemblages. This article develops a dialogue between agrarian political economy, critical commodity chains research, and chemical geographies through a case study of the world’s most widely used agrochemical: glyphosate, commonly known as Monsanto’s Roundup. In the 1980s, glyphosate triumphed as a benign biocide that promised both safety and effectiveness. This construct made possible a capitalist agricultural assemblage characterized by chemical pervasiveness, first as a chemical replacement for mechanical tillage and since the 1990s as the chemical input for genetically modified seed packages. The ubiquity that characterizes the glyphosate assemblage is also a geography of uneven development comprising shifting firm networks, policies, and trade. Central to this assemblage since 2000, yet largely ignored, is the outsized expansion of second- and third-tier generic pesticide producers, especially in China, for whom glyphosate is part of a network entry and upgrading development strategy. Today, the glyphosate assemblage faces unprecedented challenges from weed resistance and health controversies. Whether and how the herbicide assemblage restabilizes will be determined by the complex environmental and developmental challenges of chemical agriculture and pervasive chemicals broadly, which highlights the need for a transdisciplinary dialogue that cuts across these domains.


Welcome to the Pesticide Trade Lab. We are a group of researchers exploring changes in the geography of global pesticide production, trade and use, and what these changes mean for ecologies and human health. A confluence of economic, social and ecological factors has led to the accelerated adoption of pesticides in diverse agrarian contexts. We combine insights from economic geography, feminist science studies, and political ecology to understand interactions between these agrarian changes and transformations in agrochemical industries.  We are currently focused on three areas of research: (1) new methods to estimate pesticide use under conditions of decline in official statistics; (2) mapping generic herbicide production networks; and (3) analyzing multi-scale regulatory actions targeting glyphosate, the world’s most widely used pesticide.