ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Constructing Facts

A group of researchers and industry writers have constructed a narrative of technological triumph for Bt cotton in India, based on an empirical record of superior performance compared to conventional seed. Counterclaims of Bt cotton failure are attributed to mutually reinforcing interactions among non-governmental organisations which avoid rigorous comparisons. However, researchers and the biotechnology industry are also engaged in a similar authentication loop for generating, validating, and publicising such facts. With Bt cotton, the convention of routinely ignoring the effects of selection bias and cultivation bias benefits researchers, journals and the industry, but keeps us from drawing meaningful conclusions about the relative performance of the technology. But as poor as the case for isolating the technology impact of Bt cotton in India has been, it is useful in helping us understand the social conventions for creating one's "own facts".
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