Genetically-modified (GM) crops have been planted by farmers across the developing world for over a decade. When GM crops were first released there was a massive debate, with some arguing that they would be a disaster and others acclaiming them as a saviour. IDS research has aimed to take a balanced perspective, exploring what happened on the ground in a number of countries, including India, China, Kenya and Argentina.

The promise that GM crops were going to provide the 'pro-poor' solution to agricultural problems has been challenged, but in some places, for some farmers, with some crops they are offering benefits. IDS research has offered a critical and nuanced perspective often missing from the dominant, polarised debates, exploring in particular the political economy and governance challenges of agricultural biotechnology.

GM Crops and Indigenous Management Skill

This project examines the effects of GM seeds on the ‘indigenous management skill’ (IMS) that is crucial to the productivity and sustainability of small-scale crop cultivation. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

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Regulating Genetic Engineering: The Limits and Politics of Knowledge

Charges against critics of genetic engineering often take four general forms. But all of them, we argue, are unsupported by facts. More details

This is the image for the book, 'The Politics of Biofuels, Land and Agrarian Change'.

The Politics of Biofuels, Land and Agrarian Change

This book addresses key questions on biofuels within agrarian political economy, political sociology and political ecology. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Living with Materiality or Confronting Asian Diversity? The Case of Iron-Biofortified Rice Research in the Philippines

East Asian Science, Technology and Society (EASTS) 5.2 (2011)

This article draws on findings from a multi-sited study of international science policy processes in rice biofortification. More details

IDS publications on international development research

GM crops in Africa: polarising the debate

Ian Scoones, co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre based at the University of Sussex, UK and Dominic Glover of the Technology and Agrarian Development Group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands explore the fallout of a new book on agricultural biotechnology in Africa. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Transgenic cotton: A 'pro-poor' success?

STEPS Briefing 15 (2009)

Many policy makers, journalists and politicians are keen to celebrate the 'pro-poor success' of genetically modified (GM, transgenic) crops in developing countries. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Undying Promise: Agricultural Biotechnology’s Pro-poor Narrative, Ten Years on

STEPS Working Paper 15 (2009)

Many people and organisations have sought to promote genetically modified (GM, transgenic) crops as a 'pro-poor' technology. However, developing-country farmers' experiences with GM crops have been mixed. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Made by Monsanto: the Corporate Shaping of GM Crops as a Technology for the Poor

STEPS Working Paper 11 (2008)

This working paper by Dominic Glover is about the social construction and social shaping of agricultural biotechnology in relation to international development. More details

IDS publications on international development research

GM Crops: a ‘pro-poor’ technology?

STEPS Briefing 11 (2008)
cover of Understanding Policy Processes review

Understanding Policy Processes: A Review of IDS Research on the Environment

For over a decade, researchers in the IDS Environment Group have been engaging with a growing body of work on policy processes which encompasses among other things: the relationship between science, expertise and policy, political interests, public participation and network theory. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Science, Agriculture and the Politics of Policy: The Case of Biotechnology in India

This book examines the intersections of globalisation, technology and politics through a detailed, empirically-based examination of agricultural biotechnology in India. More details

IDS Working Paper

Contentious Politics, Contentious Knowledges: Mobilising Against GM Crops in India, South Africa and Brazil

IDS Working Paper 256 (2005)

Debates about science and technology are central to the future of development. No recent controversy has highlighted this as much as the debates about genetically-modified (GM) crops. Looking at the experiences of anti-GM activism in India, South Africa and Brazil, this paper explores how knowledge and politics are intertwined in mobilisation processes. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Biotechnology and the Politics of Truth: From the Green Revolution to an Evergreen Revolution

Sociologia Ruralis 45.4 (2005)

This paper investigates why and how issues around the diffusion of GM technologies and products to developing countries have become so central to a debate which has shifted away from technical issues of cost-benefit optimisation in a context of uniform mass production and consumption in the North, to the moral case for GM crops to feed the hungry and aid 'development' in the South. More details

IDS Working Paper

Making Policy in the 'New Economy': The Case of Biotechnology in Karnataka, India

IDS Working Paper 196 (2003)

This paper is a story of the making of a policy, one that included many different players, located across a variety of sites. By tracing the origins of the millennium biotechnology policy in Karnataka state, south India, examining the content of and participants in the debate that led up to it, and analysing the final result and some of its consequences, the paper attempts to understand what policy-making means in practice. More details

Public Participation in National Biotechnology Policy and Biosafety Regulation

IDS Working Paper 198 (2003)

This paper considers the challenges entailed in applying the principles and methods of public participation to national and international policy processes. It draws on evidence from the field of biotechnology policy and biosafety regulation in Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and Zimbabwe. More details

IDS Working Paper

Biotechnology Policy and Regulation in China

IDS Working Paper 195 (2003)

The paper details China's achievements in biotechnology research and development, and explains what policies and institutional mechanisms have facilitated Chinese breakthroughs in the field of GMOs. More details

Governing Modern Agricultural Biotechnology in Kenya: Implications for Food Security

IDS Working Paper 199 (2003)

This report reviews governance issues of modern biotechnology. The study used two case studies of transgenic sweet potato and Bt maize to examine how governance issues influence household and national food security in the country. More details

IDS Working Paper

Biotech Firms, Biotech Politics: Negotiating GMOs in India

IDS Working Paper 201 (2003)

This paper seeks to identify and explain the ways in which different firms affected by and involved in the debate about the role of biotechnology in Indian agriculture have sought to advance their interests. It is argued that the public positions of larger biotech and agro-chemical companies, seed enterprises and newer start-up firms and the associations they belong to relate to differences in their underlying corporate strategies. More details

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