Our researchLand conflicts, agribusiness and energy extraction

Work, Water and Food on the Energy Frontiers: challenges and futures for 21st century technologies in Scotland and Brazil

Funding: Newton Fund

Economic, environmental and climatic uncertainty raises new questions about how access to, and use of, energy, land, water and food is organised. New large scale sources of ‘renewable’ energy such as biomass (agroenergy) plantations and hydrodams are promoted as bringing development, trade and employment opportunities to rural areas.

The research undertaken here in Brazil and Scotland by a group of social and engineering scientists alongside rural communities and organisations present particular social and environmental conflicts arising from new technologies, but also current and potential alternatives for renewable energy and food provision that promise improved relations between those who do the work, their communities and the natural environment.

Research team

Moncultures, Agrotoxins and Worker Health

This theme explores the increasing incidence of illness and death that correlates with the intensified use of agricultural chemicals in large scale industry; the social, biological and economic implications of monoculture, and the ongoing struggle for alternatives from agrarian, urban and island communities and social movements.

It links the sale of chemicals from Europe (where they are banned) to new health challenges in the Global South, the foreign direct investment strategies of transnational corporations and the subsequent conflicts in new sites of water, (bio)fuel and mineral extraction. The research seeks to make visible existing alternatives that promise enhanced social and environmental futures.