In contrast, so-called “modern” agriculture, which is in fact twentieth-century agriculture, did the exact opposite: it sought to simplify Nature. What to do in the field was defined by whatever was prescribed by “science” developed in laboratories. The path from research to practice was unidirectional, and it was seen as unproblematic: since solutions were based on science, they were considered universally applicable. The experiential knowledge of the farmer was irrelevant at best; at worst, it was treated as “prejudice”, and as an obstacle to the top-down implementation of sound scientific prescriptions from “experts”. In this view from twentieth-century science, the complexity of Nature is a problem: simplify it if you can –never mind if this means robbing the farmer of developing her art – and transforming that art into the literacy of reading instructions for use on the spray bottles and on the seed bags.

If agroecology stems from a renewed understanding of Nature and of our relationship to Nature, it naturally follows that it is also a social movement.