“Will Brazil's ethanol ambitions undermine its agrarian reform goals? A study of social perspectives using Q-method” Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Brazil's agrarian reform policies are on a possible collision course with its ethanol policies. The paper explores tensions between one critical aspect of agrarian reform settlements-food security and safety-and sugarcane mills by focusing on analysis of social perspectives of key actors regarding the possible conflict between ethanol and agrarian reform. We used Q-method to determine empirically four social perspectives regarding ethanol-agrarian reform conflicts, focusing specifically on food security and safety: (1) the sugarcane sector harms family farming; (2) family farming suffers from flawed public policies; (3) family farmers are enterpreneurs and cheap labor for mills; and (4) work in sugarcane is a necessary evil for family farmers. The findings indicate more diversity in social perspectives than the dichotomy between small-scale and agribusiness farming, which is commonly reported in Brazilian media. Moreover, the findings indicate areas for improvement in the ethanol certification process, which relies partially on concepts and measures of food security and safety. Findings suggest the need to implement a broader notion of food security and safety for certification and new methodological approaches for measurement.

author list (cited authors)

  • Frate, C. A., & Brannstrom, C.

citation count

  • 8

publication date

  • April 2015