Understanding the Social, Cultural and Economic Factors That Shape the Acceptance, Use and Resistance to GM Crops: A Comparative Approach

Friday, July 18, 2014: 6:00 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Julia S. GUIVANT , Centro de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis/SC, Brazil
Philip MACNAGHTEN , Geography, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom
Susana CARRO-RIPALDA , Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom
Although the growth of GM crops has been dramatic, its uptake has not been the smooth transition predicted by its advocates. Unless we examine why GM crops have not been universally accepted as a public good, we will fail to understand the conditions under which „GM crops can help to feed the world‟.To answer this question we develpop a research programme of fieldwork within and across India, Mexico and Brazil. Our research looks to contribute: (1) to enrich the debate at the level of culture and ontology; (2) to attend to the meanings of GM crops and foods and how they are embedded in practice; and (3) to develop deliberative methodologies to engender a broader set of options for GM policy and agenda setting. The main objective is to highlight the distinctive political, anthropological and cultural dynamics to the debate on GM crops across the 3 countries. Through this research, founded by The John Templeton Foundation, we identified some gaps in the literature: (1)  little in-depth research examining the impacts of GM crops on farmers‟ communities and their culturally-specific farming and related practices: how GM crops have been embedded into everyday life contexts, how benefits and risks have been assessed from diverse cultural perspectives, how they have affected if at all farmers‟ social situations,  practical knowledge, and their engagements with the land and food. (2) little in-depth examination of public perceptions of GM foods,  and (3)  little attempt to engage farmers (particularly female), citizens, regulators and scientists in deliberation, to assess how and under what conditions GM crops can be developed fully cognizant of social, cultural and spiritual values. In the research we developed a) stakeholder structured interviews; b) stakeholder qualitative questionnaires; 3) Ethnographic fieldwork with farmers and researchers and 4) focus groups with urban consumers.