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Abstract

The diverse ways that extreme climate events are expressed at the local level have represented a challenge for the development of transgenic "climate-ready" (resilient to environmental stress) seeds. Based on the Argentinean "HB4" technology, this paper analyzes how ignorance and a sunflower gene are mobilized to overcome this difficulty in soy and wheat. HB4 seeds can be understood as myopic: the technology does not obstruct the capacity of soy and wheat plants to sense droughts, but it prevents their natural reaction, which would be to put a halt on crop production and redirect their energy toward survival. Plants thus become "short-sighted" to droughts. Informed by ignorance studies and by the immunological concept of tolerance, this paper analyzes HB4 myopia as a type of nonhuman ignorance: an asset that allows plant breeders to achieve varied plant responses to droughts and to encode their capitalist values (that prioritize production over survival) into plants' DNA. Moreover, ignorance becomes a molecular commodity that can be selected, transferred between organisms, and traded in markets. HB4's prioritization of production resonates with other technologies of climate adaptation and mitigation that do not promote structural changes to the capitalist system.

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