Controversy Reloaded: GM 2.0 or the New Plant Breeding Techniques (NBTs)

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In the coming weeks the European Commission will release a statement on the regulation of new plant breeding techniques (NBTs). Specifically, it will decide whether the EU GMO laws apply to the plant-related products of seven ‘new’ genetic engineering techniques. It is likely that the release of this draft regulation will renew controversies surrounding GMOs on the political agenda. If the decision is that these new breeding techniques create products that fall outside the definition of a GMO and therefore the European regulatory system, the organisms and foods produced with these NBTs could spread through the environment and enter the food chain untested, unlabeled and untraceable.

A majority of European citizens have repeatedly expressed their rejection of GMOs. In fact, the European legislation on GMOs, which was modified last year to allow Member States to opt out of the cultivation of GM crops, has long been considered an obstacle to the biotech industry. Within the largely GM-skeptical context of the EU, the decision on NBTs and the new draft has become a battleground. The drafting of new regulations offer the biotech industry a window of opportunity to change the rules of the game (i.e the definition of what a GMO is), exclude certain products of these new techniques from specific regulation (and make them unidentifiable for the public), and thus bypass the ‘annoying problem’ of the massive rejection of GMOs from European citizens.

Many of the arguments made by the biotech industry aim at deregulation by merely focusing on the outcomes and disregarding the processes involved in producing these novel products. Deregulation of the new techniques would place the products created by them in ‘black boxes’ and render them invisible and untraceable through agri-food systems. This would arguably erase the rights of European consumers to freedom of choice.

The following table, from to a report published by Corporate Europe Observatory on the biotech lobbies’ efforts to exclude the new techniques from regulation, reproduces the key industry arguments for the deregulation of new GM techniques and their contestations.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 15.47.34Click table to enlarge

At the core of all the industry arguments we find old-fashioned assumptions related to science, risk and modernity. The proponents of such deregulation seem to forget the knowledge acquired during the last decades on undesirable by-products of progress and techno-industrial development in the context of the global risk society we live in. Emanating from the biotech industry set of arguments, there is also a strong scent of a positivist and mechanistic understandings of science and scientific knowledge, based on a misconceived control over nature, in which the risks, uncertainties and unknowns are systematically downplayed or, directly, ignored. Of course, under this conception, the social implications (e.g. how the introduction of these new technologies will affect different food cultures, farmer’s lives, or other stakeholder’s of the agri-food system) are not within industry’s sight.

The unregulated mass release of these new products could entail unwanted and irreversible impacts for not only food safety, but also for our socio-ecologicial and agricultural systems. These new technologies are in their infancy and many uncertainties still remain. A moratorium on the commercialisation of these new products would allow more time to further investigate and understand the consequences they might entail, however industry lobbying is working strongly against any support for such a move. While many technical reports and legal analyses by government bodies and NGOs have concluded that these new emerging technologies should definitely not be excluded from existing EU GM regulations, we wait to see what the European authorities will decide for the fate of GM 2.0.

Naturalness: A helpful or hopeless concept?

 

2013.02-402-294a_Pearl_millet,breeding,selfing_ICRISAT,Patancheru(Hyderabad,Andhra_Pradesh),IN_wed20feb2013In the public debate about agricultural biotechnologies and their acceptability, we often hear the claim from critics that these technologies are “not natural”. Such claims are typically dismissed by supporters of the technology who claim that agricultural practices have always involved human intervention into nature and the use of new technologies (be it plough, pesticide or irrigation system). In academic circles, the concept of naturalness has very much fallen out of fashion and is rarely invoked as a legitimate argument either for or against new technologies.

The problem seems to stem from the word ‘nature’ as it is commonly understood and employed today. If human beings are seen to be separate from ‘nature’, then anything they do can arguably be understood as “unnatural”, including all agricultural practices. If, however, we are seen to be a part of nature, then everything we do becomes “natural”, including all technological inventions such as plastic, nuclear weapons and transgenic organisms. This means we seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place in which the concept of naturalness appears completely useless for debating the desirability and virtues of different agricultural technologies. And yet, an implicit use of a concept is found throughout environmental debates because without it, concepts like pollution, contamination, the anthropocene, pristine nature etc would have little meaning. The concept of naturalness is therefore often invoked but rarely defined in environmental debates concerning new and emerging technologies. A new book published this year seeks to change this though. It does so by reimagining and redefining the idea of naturalness in ways that may allow it to have a legitimate place in debates about agricultural biotechnologies.

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Philosophy of Nature: Rethinking naturalness” by environmental philosopher Assoc. Prof. Svein Anders Noer Lie  lays a foundation for reclaiming the idea of naturalness in scientific, public and policy debates. Critiquing the dual view of our modern world in which on the one hand nature can be legitimately used and treated, taken apart and rearranged in any way humans prefer, and on the other hand, that the best way to protect nature from abuse is to create a separation from human interaction (i.e. we can either do anything and everything, or nothing), the book works to carve out a kind of third way by reclaiming the ancient idea that biological entities have ‘a nature’ that human beings can identify, respect and work together with.

As Assoc. Prof. Noer Lie writes in the preface, “When things are seen to have natures, there are good and bad ways to manipulate them – and because things have natures, it eventually becomes clear that there are good and bad consequences. Finally, it is because things have a nature that we can have an ethics regarding those things or beings in the first place.” The problem from his perspective is therefore that within the currently dominant ontology (or way of seeing the world) biological entitites are not seen to have any inherent nature. To counter this ‘passivist’ view, Noer Lie carefully outlines an alternative view – a dispositional ontology – in which entities are seen to have particular defining dispositions (i.e. powers, potentials or characteristics). This ontology proposes that the behaviour of beings is not entirely determined by outside factors (i.e. the being has no internal nature), nor is it entirely determined by inherent characteristics (i.e. the being is static in its expressed characteristics), but rather that beings have a set of dispositions (or range of possibilities) that become manifest in relationship with particular others and external conditions. As a simple illustrative example of this idea, a glass has the disposition to shatter, but this only becomes manifest when it meets the floor. Arguing that biological entitites have particular dispositions that they have historically evolved in relationship with ecosystem interactions, Noer Lie proposes that we can act in accordance with a being’s nature by identifying and taking these dispositions into account.

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In reclaiming the concept of naturalness through using a dispositional ontology to argue that biological entities have a nature that we can respect or disrespect, Noer Lie does not adopt the position that human beings should therefore acknowledge the intrinsic value of nature and leave it alone. Having previously acknowledged problems with the concept of intrinsic value in a relational worldview, he rather talks about the need to rethink the way we instrumentally use nature and proposes that we can actually do this most efficiently and ethically by working with rather than against the natural dispositions that a biological organism or system has.

This work aligns with arguments I have made elsewhere concerning the problem with calls to  ‘protect the environment’ and my argument that we should instead focus on the cultivation of our ecological Self. It also supports my argument that opposition to biotechnology (and other life technosciences) need not only be focused on the consequences of those technologies for human and environmental health, or on a defined set of universal ethical principles, but can also be ontologically derived, i.e. stemming from a different view of how the world works and the role of humans within it.

While Noer Lie uses most of the book Philosophy of Nature: Rethinking naturalness to focus on presenting a detailed philosophical grounding for his views and arguments, the final chapter takes up the question of what his concept of naturalness may mean for the stewardship of wilderness. It is also interesting for us to now consider, what could this approach mean for the stewardship of agriculture and the governance of emerging technologies?

Small-scale farming systems in KwaZulu Natal – visiting field sites and thinking about multi-species methodologies

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View over some maize farms in Hlabisa which are badly affected by the country-wide drought conditions.

Last week I travelled to KwaZulu Natal to visit some potential field site areas with my supervisor, Rachel Wynberg and Hellen, a master’s student who is also looking at the impacts of GM maize on small-scale farmers in South Africa. Hellen was conducting some focus groups with members of a cooperative who are using GM maize in Hlabisa near the town of Mtubatuba. We decided that Hlabisa would be an important site for my fieldwork as it has a long history of farmers growing GM maize seed varieties due to a number of interventions in the area. There have been a number of studies done in the area looking at the social and economic benefits and impacts of GM maize for small-scale farmers here over the past decade, however little research on socio-ecological dimensions. Hlabisa was one of the first sites in South Africa where Monsanto rolled out Bt maize through government programs in 2001. It is estimated that throughout the country 3000 small-scale framers attended introductory workshops on using GM maize.

While we were in Mtubatuba we met with one of the key members of Biowatch who is based at their offices there. He has worked in the area for a long time and was able to advise me on what small/scale maize agri/culture sites he felt would be suitable for the project. We discussed how Pongola, which is on the border of Swaziland could be a good site as farmers there grow both traditional and GM maize, however there is a strong resistance to GM maize by some of the farmers in the area. He also suggested that the area of Ngwavuma could also be good as it has a very high diversity of traditional maize seed varieties present. While I was unable to go to these sites further North this trip we will be going there during our project meeting in March which will be in South Africa.

We spent one day visiting a group of women from an agro-ecological cooperative affiliated with Biowatch located near Mtubatuba. We spent a few hours speaking with the chairperson (whose home we met at), the vice secretary and an additional member. The farmers here grow a number traditional maize varieties as well as a diversity of other food crops (see the photograph below). Their crops are spread out between 3 different growing sites. They each have a ‘summer’ and a ‘winter garden’ located at their homes ans these are farmed for household use. The summer garden is where maize is grown and despite the drought some maize had been planted and was growing. In addition they also all work collectively on a large ‘market garden’ which they use to generate income through selling produce such as spinach, leeks, green peppers and other vegetables to a nearby supermarket. All gardens are tended to using agro-ecological methods which BioWatch provides training in.

This visit was a great opportunity to reflect on method. We had a long discussion about how the farmers in the cooperative had come to grow the maize they grow now and farm using the methods they currently use. We also spoke a lot about drought and the survival of different maize varieties as well as other crops in times of drought. The farmers explained how they had only recently begun farming again over the past few years. While they were born in families where their parents were farmers, grown up farming and gotten married into farming families (often receiving a diversity seed as part of a dowry), many factors had cause them to move away from farming. They told us of how during a period of drought in the 1980’s many oxen had died and so they started to plant by hand or hire tractors when they were available. Another problem that started to increase was that of stray animals (goats and cows) would always come into their fields as no one was herding them anymore due to various social changes and pressures I have not explored at this point.

This story of how a changing relationship with cattle is an important part of the changing agri/cultures was also expressed in Hlabisa during the focus groups Hellen was conducting. In Hlabisa farmers mentioned that they started to vaccinate their cattle in the 1980s as well as adopt foreign breeds of cattle introduced by white farmers which weren’t as resilient. Some felt that the vaccinations affected the cows health as well as the quality of milk and meat. Cattle are a key species in small-scale maize farming systems in South Africa. I feel I have much more to explore and understand here around the importance of cattle in small-scale agri/cultural systems and how relationships with cattle changing over time due to climate and political history is connected to maize growing.

As explored above many farmers in Kwawhowho had given up on farming due to the loss of oxen, drought and other pressures until Biowatch came to the area to carry out training workshops. Biowatch motivated people to start planting again, first on a small-scale with household gardens and then through the introduction of ‘market gardens’. But drought has been a constant a problem. Last year it was bad however they did manage to keep seed. This year it threatens to be worse. When I asked about the types of maize being grown the chairperson went to collect some maize cobs as well as buckets of seed in various jars and we laid these out and leaned about the different types of maize and other kind of seed as well as how it is planted and what insects are both good and bad some of which had gotten into the jars. We were shown a variety of traditional maize with a small pink cob that grows well in drought. There were also some other vegetable species that were considered good survivors in times of drought.

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Maize varieties we were shown in Kwawhowho ( we were told the one on the left fairs well in drought conditions)

Talking around the different seeds offered a great way of learning about the complexity and diversity of the agri/culture system. We also walked around the garden and explored what was there and how things were planted as well as looked as some of the insects and other specie sin the system and how they are connected. These maize systems are not part of a supply chain but are rather closed systems. Maize seed is saved and in times where seed is running low farmers trade with nearby farmers and farmers rely little on external or bought inputs. During the few days we were in KwaZulu Natal  I began to see how the multi-species methodology can be a powerful tool for uncovering socio-ecological connections and wider narratives about agri/culture systems. Reflecting on some writing I read recently I started to see how a multi-species approach in conjunction with the use of photography and sensory data collection could provide a way for engaging with agricultural system in a way that draws out new complexities. George Monbiot in his recent book Feral writes how: “Most human endeavors, unless checked by public dissent, evolve into monocultures. Money seeks out a region’s competitive advantage – the field in which it competes most successfully – an promotes it to the exclusion of all else.” (Monbiot, 2014: 153)

I look forward to exploring many different systems of small-scale agriculture and how an interest in the multi-species as a window into understanding these systems better. I am interested in looking at a range of systems from those that sustain an increased level of diversity growing various kinds of traditional maize varieties as well as other crops to those that resemble monocultures growing only one varitety of GM maize. In March we will be be visiting various types of small-scale maize farms in the Northern part of KwaZulu near the borders of Swaziland and Mozambique where farmers grow traditional, hybrid and GM maize more commercially and so that will be an opportunity to explore the supply chain linkages and the use of the multispecies as a way of researching maize agri/culture systems.

Strategies for keeping feed free from GMOs

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Last week Amaranta and I attended a roundtable and a thematic workshop on GM-free feedstuff for organic and non-GM sectors organised by IFOAM EU in Ulm, Germany. The events gathered key stakeholders along the organic and GM-free feed value chain, from farmers to retailers, but also taking into account certifiers, researchers, policy-makers and advisors or consumers’ associations with the objective to find strategies for increasing the availability of GM-free feed in Europe. The activities are part of the project Keeping GMOs out of food coordinated by IFOAM EU aiming to strengthen the capacity of organic and conventional sectors in Europe to stay GMO-free.

Europe is highly dependent on inputs from third countries for fulfilling the internal demand for feedstock, a problem which is aggravated in the organic sector. In this sense, major changes in production are required (including the introduction or re-introduction of alternative and/or traditional protein sources and/or the reduction of livestock). In this context, I did a presentation on the situation in Spain, which is highly aggravated by the very difficult coexistence between GM and non-GM maize, which is almost impossible for organic maize in the GM maize producing areas (e.g. Catalonia and Aragon) (Binimelis, 2009). Besides the consequences for food sovereignty, the environmental impacts connected to the importation of millions of tonnes of soy and maize (among other crops) are also high, especially since agriculture – and the transport of commodities worldwide – is a key source of greenhouse emissions and a depletion of energy resources.

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I found it a very interesting and strategic initative to bring together stakeholders from both the organic and conventional production systems in order to share their main challenges for the production of GM free feed, but also for defining common strategies to face common problems, to increase availability of GM-free feed and to better communicate to the consumer which are the systems (and the values associated to them) that he or she is contributing to when choosing a product at the shop shelves. We had very interesting debates on aspects such as the pros and cons of establishing GMO-free labels (as exist in many European countries like France or Germany not only for the GM products themselves but also for the animal derivatives (e.g. eggs or milk) from animals fed with GMOs), and the possibility to harmonise the standards of the different national labels. Can the organic and conventional sector agree on a common strategy on labeling taking into account that the organic production is not using GMOs by definition? Would such a label induce the consumer to think that conventional products labelled as non-GM do not contain GMOs but organic products do?

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We also had enlightening discussions on the conventionalisation of organic agriculture and the risks this poses for losing the essence of its character by leaving aside values such as simplicity, localising production in both spacial and social terms, trust or transparency.

Divide y vencerás: Reflexiones sobre la nueva Directiva Europea sobre OMGs

Photo author: lewishamdreamer - CC license

Photo author: lewishamdreamer – CC license

La semana pasada saltó a los medios de comunicación la noticia de que Escocia está a punto de prohibir los Organismos Modificados Genéticamente (OMGs). Esta prohibición, si acaba materializándose, sería la primera que se realiza después de la entrada en vigor de la nueva legislación europea en materia de transgénicos, el pasado mes de Abril de 2015. Hemos considerado oportuno hacer un repaso de los principales cambios legislativos y algunas reflexiones y apuntes generales sobre las implicaciones que podría tener la nueva directiva.

Los antecedentes del cambio legislativo nos remontan a una situación institucional Europea en la que se reflejaba una dilatada controversia social que estas biotecnologías generan. Durante muchos años, los Estados Miembro han mantenido opiniones antagónicas sobre el cultivo de los OMGs en sus territorios nacionales. Por ejemplo Austria, Hungría, Grecia, Luxemburgo, Alemania y Francia han utilizado todos una cláusula existente en la legislación anterior para implementar prohibiciones nacionales sobre el cultivo y la comercialización de los OMGs (aunque Alemania autorizó la comercialización de una patata transgénica para usos industriales que fue retirada poco después). A su vez, países como el Estado español (el país con más hectáreas cultivadas de OMGs en Europa, con diferencia), República Checa, Eslovaquia, Portugal, Rumanía y Polonia han apostado por el uso de estas biotecnologías y en sus territorios se cultivan y se comercializan estos cultivos. Ante el intenso debate y la polarización de los Estados Miembros, el cambio de legislación vino motivado para dar salida, de alguna forma, al atolladero legal en que se encontraba el conjunto de países de la UE, en el que las aprobaciones de transgénicos a nivel Europeo eran continuamente cuestionadas y no contaban con el apoyo de algunos de los Estados Miembros.

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A continuación destacamos los principales aspectos de la nueva directiva y los cambios que ha conllevado:

  • Hay que puntualizar que la nueva legislación sólo afecta al cultivo de OMGs, no a su importación o a sus movimientos dentro de la Unión Europea, aunque ya hay un borrador de una directiva europea sobre importaciones paralela a la de cultivo en circulación. Esto significa que la nueva Directiva tampoco afecta a los campos experimentales o a utilización confinada de OMGs.
  • La nueva directiva permite a los estados prohibir o, mejor dicho, restringir lo que denominan un ‘evento’ (es decir, la modificación genética concreta para la que se busca la aprobación) amparándose, entre otros aspectos, en criterios socio-económicos para proteger los productos no-OMG (e.g porque chocan con sus objetivos en materia de política agraria o ambiental, etc…). Es importante destacar que, bajo la anterior legislación, no era posible utilizar este tipo de criterios para justificar una prohibición.
  • La directiva establece un procedimiento con dos pasos: en un primer momento, un estado puede solicitar ante la Comisión ser excluido del ámbito de aplicación de la autorización. En caso de que el solicitante de los permisos para la venta de la modificación o ‘evento’ (por ejemplo, una empresa de biotecnología) no lo acepte, el estado en cuestión deberá justificar su solicitud de ser excluido basándose en los motivos descritos anteriormente siempre y cuando sea de forma “razonada, proporcional y no discriminatoria”.
  • El Parlamento Europeo veía la nueva directiva como una oportunidad para establecer medidas de coexistencia obligatorias (entre cultivos transgénicos y no transgénicos) para los países adoptantes de OMGs. Sin embargo, esta propuesta fue finalmente desestimada y la directiva sólo menciona vagamente que se deberán establecer ciertas medidas de coexistencia – no se establecen cuáles – en las áreas fronterizas entre un país dónde esté autorizado el cultivo y el país o entre países vecinos en donde su cultivo esté restringido o prohibido.
  • Este procedimiento sólo puede iniciarse una vez el ‘evento’ ha sido evaluado positivamente siguiendo la evaluación de riesgo habitual en la UE que es estrictamente restringida a aspectos cuantificables del ‘riesgo’ y que es la única evaluación considerada como propiamente “científica”. Como esta aproximación excluye e ignora todo lo relativo a las dimensiones sociales, políticas y éticas de los cultivos transgénicos, éstas son consideradas como “otros aspectos a tener en cuenta”, pero quedan, en realidad, al margen de la evaluación formal a nivel europeo.

La principal implicación de este cambio legislativo es que mientras que hay países que se acogerán a la prohibición, todo apunta a que seguramente se acelerarán los procesos de adopción en otros, como el Estado español, polarizando aún más el mapa de cultivo de OMGs en Europa, particularizando y dividiendo la toma de decisiones sobre la implantación de los cultivos OMGs en Europa y debilitando así cualquier iniciativa colectiva de afrontar políticamente, más allá del ámbito de los estados-nación, una de las grandes controversias tecnocientíficas de este siglo.

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Además, el marco legal que establece la directiva es poco robusto, y quedan muchas incógnitas en relación a las implicaciones prácticas de su implementación: ¿Podrán las empresas biotecnológicas demandar a un Estado Miembro (o a una región concreta, como en el caso de Escocia) que quiera prohibir el cultivo de un evento MG, por ejemplo, con el beneplácito de la OMC? ¿Podrá una región hacer frente a una demanda judicial por parte de una empresa biotecnológica si persiste en su voluntad de prohibición? ¿Qué papel podrían jugar los tribunales de arbitraje que se están negociando en el Tratado Transatlántico para el Comercio y la Inversión, conocido en inglés como TTIP, cuando no exista acuerdo entre el país o la región que quiera restringir o prohibir un OMGs y la empresa que solicita su autorización?

Finalmente, tampoco queda claro qué justificaciones -y qué tipos de conocimiento y evidencias- serán consideradas como relevantes, válidas y suficientes para respaldar una prohibición cuando existen tan pocos datos empíricos sobre las consecuencias sociales y económicas de los OMGs, especialmente en los países del llamado Norte Global. En este sentido, una vez más, nos parece conveniente resaltar la importancia de lo que el proyecto Agri/Cultures trata de hacer, es decir, de generar y visualizar conocimiento empírico útil y relevante socialmente, que permita la evaluación de aspectos socio-económicos y éticos de los OMGs con el objetivo de avanzar hacia una toma de decisiones más robusta, más inclusiva, más responsable, más holística, más democrática y sobretodo que incorpore las preocupaciones socio-ecológicas manifestadas por amplios sectores de las sociedad.

Responsible Innovation & Agri/Cultures

The Agri/Cultures Project was recently given some attention by the Giannino Bassetti Foundation, with our project profiled and introduced to their members, supporters and readers. The Bassetti Foundation has a mission to promote responsible innovation in various fields of technoscience.

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Responsible Innovation is a relatively new governance discourse that is rapidly being taken up in European policy, particularly for seeking to ensure that the development of emerging technologies like biotechnology, nanotechnology and synthetic biology moves in desirable directions. The Agri/Cultures project seeks to generate empirical knowledge on the impacts of agricultural biotechnologies on socio-ecological systems through their development and use and to consider these impacts in light of criteria of sustainability, ethical justifiability and social utility. As such, it is very interested in to what implications the emerging ideas of what constitutes responsible research and innovation have for a technology already in use, such as GM crops, and for their governance. We are very supportive of the work the Bassetti Foundation is doing on the important issue of advancing responsible innovation and look forward to future discussions about how this may be achieved in the case of agricultural biotechnology.

The Agri/Cultures Project

The Agri/Cultures Project is a four-year research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council’s FRIPRO programme. The project is focused on developing novel concepts, methods and empirical knowledge for understanding and assessing the complex relational networks embodied in and performed by agricultural biotechnologies.

The use of biotechnologies has been one of the most controversial developments in modern agriculture and remains an issue of ongoing debate and unresolved social and political tension around the world. Norway has been internationally pioneering with a Gene Technology Act (GTA) that explicitly requires that the introduction and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is socially and ethically justifiable, with considerable weight given to societal benefit and contribution to sustainable development. Despite this intention, there is currently a lack of available knowledge on GMOs concerning these issues, a lack of concrete methods for their research, and a lack of clarity on how to approach socio-economic assessment. This makes it very difficult in practice to operationalise the assessment of GMOs (for both cultivation and import) according to their social and ethical justifiability, as currently required by Norwegian law.

To help address this problem, the Agri/Cultures project seeks to:
a) develop new ways of thinking about and researching GMOs that sees them not as isolated technological objects that can be assessed on their own but rather as dynamic networks of social, ecological and technical relations that have to be considered and assessed as a package,

b) generate relevant knowledge that can enable both the assessment of the relational network of GMOs against criteria of sustainability, societal benefit and ethical justifiability, and the comparison of this network with those of conventional and organic agri/cultures.

c) explore novel ways to capture and visualise these relational networks so that the information is accessible, engaging, relevant and useful for publics and policy-makers.

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Photo: ©IITA Image Library #DSCF0086 CC-licence

The project will first generate cartographies of the socio-ecological and techno-cultural networks involved in different agricultural systems, focusing on the case study of Bt maize and comparing this to conventional and organic systems of maize. The project will also explore the interaction and potential for co-existence between these three agri-food systems. To create analytic depth, the cartographies will also explore the worldviews and human/nature relations that are embedded in and performed by the different agri/cultures. In later years, the project will focus on a particular set of stakeholders within the relational networks that are crucial yet particularly vulnerable actors in agri-food systems: bee/keepers. In this work, the aim will be to understand how the three different systems of maize production effect and are affected by bee/keepers and how the assessment of sustainability, social utility and ethical justifiability are perceived and assessed from their perspective.

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Photo:©Roberto Vinicius CC-licence

In addition to standard academic deliverables such as publications in international peer-reviewed journals, policy reports and articles in the popular press, this project also seeks to be innovative in its approach to communication. With a specific intention to explore novel ways to capture, visualise, and assess the relational networks involved in modern agri-food systems, and to ensure that its results will be disseminated to various audiences, the project will develop an online identity and digital transmedia platform.

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