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

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The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology

Farmers, Media, and Opinion in India

Farmers in developing countries have little voice in infl uencing agricultural research. However, they are not without political infl uence. The tension between these understandings is examined by investigating the importance of farmers in the political economy of genetically modifi ed crop approvals in India. The evidence shows that while farmers may not be important in shaping policy, they have the clout to defeat it. 

This project was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

That farmers are politically significant may seem obvious. The protests that followed the introduction of the so-called farm laws (EPW 2020) were a case in point. Yet, scholars, for long, have been troubled by the paradox that despite their numerical strength, farm movements are politically weak (Posani 2009; Saha and Yadav 2017).

It is in this context that this article investigates the importance of farmers in the political economy of genetically modified or transgenic crop approvals in India. Could the interests of farmers be a dominant force in regulation, approvals, pricing, and adoption of new technology? But a part of the literature suggests that regulation and approvals do not necessarily depend on mass politics. In a review, Herring and Paarlberg (2016; citing Blyth 2002, 2003) conclude, Ideas about GMOs matter much more than is typically assumed by a standard political economy based on material interests (p 411). Their claim is that it is elite politics that constructs the social frame within which regulation is debated. In this article, we revisit this hypothesis in the context of transgenic crops in India.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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