Weedy activism: women, plants, and the genetic pollution of urban Japan



Along the ports of Japan, civilians have made a peculiar discovery: in a country where genetically modified (GM) crop cultivation is prohibited, wild canola weeds flourishing in the cracks of sidewalks are exhibiting the GM trait of herbicide resistance to Monsanto's infamous glyphosate. Able to enter the archipelagic country via unregulated channels and to cross-pollinate with locally grown crops, the weeds threaten to make inroads into the food system in ways unbeknownst to human actors. Among the most vocal of groups responding to this urban ecological threat are Japanese women and mothers involved in consumer co-operative systems. This article documents the emergence of their activism to demonstrate how situated and transformative political action is key to the political ecological study of human-plant encounters. It does so by interrogating the notion of weedyactivism as a way to see plants not only as the object of political action, but also as a conceptual heuristic for understanding the kinds of political subjects that emerge in interaction with local environments.

Keywords: weeds, urban political ecology, feminist political ecology, GMO, pollution, civil society, Japan

How to Cite: Paredes, A. D. (2021) “Weedy activism: women, plants, and the genetic pollution of urban Japan”, Journal of Political Ecology. 28(1). doi: