Theme 4: Public participation and the politics of policy

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Overview

Governing technologies in favour of ‘pro-poor’ outcomes is a major challenge. The research contained in this section shows that, while there is much rhetoric about ‘pro-poor biotechnology’, the evidence on the ground is wanting. Getting publics – farmers, consumers, traders and others – involved in debates about biotechnology, its design, use and regulation, is vital. Research in this section includes a number of reviews of public participation in biosafety regulation, and the challenges this implies. This combines with reports on a series of experiments in and reflections on deliberative approaches to discussion agriculture futures and the role of GM crops based on citizens’ juries.

Key findings include:

  • Conflicting perspectives and interests always exist around the future, particularly when a controversial technology such as GM is concerned. Debate and dispute should be expected, and deliberation on key issues encouraged.
  • Approaches to inclusive deliberation include citizens’ juries and scenario workshops. These can be useful in convening discussions about alternative options, and providing a space for alternative views – beyond those of technocrats, industry lobbyists, and government personnel – to be heard. There are however limitations to such approaches. All deliberative and participatory spaces are subject to power dynamics. Careful attention needs to be applied to making sure all perspectives are heard, in an open and transparent way. Dissent and disagreement is to be expected, and needs to be acknowledged as part of the process.
  • A much more serious problem occurs when so-called participatory and consultative policy processes are tacked on to a policy process that imposes standardised, normative models of governance, where the risks are pre-defined by scientific experts and there is no room for citizens’ concerns or priorities to frame the process. Much of the international ‘capacity-building’ support for developing countries has fallen into this trap. Giving the appearance of taking citizens’ views into account while allowing scientists to lay down the rules may merely provoke mistrust of official policy processes.
  • Governance arrangements for overseeing innovation processes, and particularly the testing and introduction of new, potentially risky, technologies, are very poorly developed, particularly in the global south. Recourse to standardised, technical approaches, based on risk management, have been found wanting. An inclusive, rights-based approach is a promising alternative. Open, democratic and deliberative approaches must to be central to governing technologies, especially if poverty reduction and environmental sustainability are key aims.
  • Citizen action and mobilisation around GM crops has been an important route to recasting the debate in new ways. While much of the discussion has got stuck in a narrow pro or anti-GM frame, wider concerns about the role of agribusiness, the corporate control of agriculture and the future of food and farming have been raised.
  • Political cultures – of protest, participation and policymaking – differ dramatically across regions and countries. The role of the law and courts, the influence of scientific expertise and the possibilities of mobilisation vary dramatically. This has major implications for how disputes are tackled and what policy instruments are used. Assuming that one style of policymaking is the correct one is inappropriate, and results in major misunderstandings and potential conflicts.

Theme 4 Archive

General

Ely, A. V. et al (forthcoming) Chapters 1-5 in Dreyer, M. and O. Renn (Eds.) (2009) ‘Food Safety Governance: Integrating Science, Precaution and Public Involvement’, (including a chapter on GM Bt maize in Europe). Springer

Scoones, I. (2008). Mobilising against GM crops in India, South Africa and Brazil. Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 8 Nos. 2 and 3, April and July 2008, pp. 315–344. .

Burgess, J., Stirling, A., Clark, J., Davies, G., Eames, M., Staley, K., and Williamson, S. (2007) Deliberative mapping: a novel analytic-deliberative methodology to support contested science-policy decisions– Public Understanding of Science, Vol. 16, No. 3, 299-322

Glover, D. (2007) ‘Farmer participation in private sector agricultural extension’, IDS Bulletin 38(5), November: 61-73.

Millstone, E. (2007), ‘Can food safety policy-making be both scientifically and democratically legitimated? If so, how?‘, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Vol. 20, pp. 483-508

Stirling, A. (2007) Deliberate futures: precaution and progress in social choice of sustainable technology Sustainable Development, Vol 15 Issue 5, Pages 286 – 295

Scoones, I, and Leach M. (2006) The Slow Race – Making Technology Work for the Poor, Demos: London

Stirling, A. (2006) Precaution, foresight and sustainability: reflection and reflexivity in the governance of science and technology, in Voss, Jan-Peter, Dierk Bauknecht & René Kemp (eds) Reflexive Governance for Sustainable Development. Edward Elgar Publishing

Scoones, I (2005), Contentious Politics, Contentious Knowledges: Mobilising Against GM Crops in India, Brazil and South Africa’. IDS Working Paper 256, IDS: Brighton

Stirling, A., and Mayer, S. (2005) ‘Confronting Risk with Precaution: A Multi-Criteria Mapping of Genetically Modified Crops’, in Getzner, M, Clive L. Spash and Sigrid Stagl (eds) Alternatives for Environmental Valuation, Routledge. .

Scoones, I (2004) Debating GM crops (editorial), Insights 52

Glover, D. Keeley, J. Newell, P., McGee, R. et al. (2003) Public participation and the Biosafety Protocol: a review for UNEP-GEF and DFID Brighton: IDS

Keeley, J. (2003), Democratising biotechnology: an overview, Democratising Biotechnology: Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries Briefing Series, Briefing 1. Brighton, UK: IDS

Millstone, E. (2003), The EU-US Dispute over the introduction of agricultural biotechnology: an analysis and prognosis, Soziale Technik, Vol.4, pp. 19-20

Millstone, E. and van Zwanenberg, P. (2003) ‘Food and Agricultural Biotechnology Policy: How Much Autonomy Can Developing Countries Exercise?Development Policy Review, Vol. 21, No. 5, pp. 655-667

Mohamed-Katerere, J. (2003), From risks to rights: challenges for biotechnology policy, Democratising Biotechnology: Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries Briefing Series, Briefing 12. Brighton,

Newell, P. (2003), ‘Globalisation and the governance of biotechnology Global Environmental Politics Vol.3 No.2, pp. 56-72.

PLA Notes – Special issue on Participatory processes for policy change, PLA Notes 46, 2003

Wakeford, T. and Pimbert, M. (2003), Power-reversals in biotechnology: experiments in democratisation, Democratising Biotechnology: Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries Briefing Series, Briefing 13. Brighton, UK: IDS

Wakeford, T. (2002), Citizens juries: a radical alternative for social research, Social Research Update 37. University of Surrey

Pimbert, M. and Wakeford, T. (eds). (2001), PLA Notes 40, Special Issue on Deliberative democracy and citizen empowerment, London: IIED in collaboration with The Commonwealth Foundation, ActionAid, DFID and SIDA.

Stirling, A. (2001) Inclusive deliberation and scientific expertise: precaution, diversity and transparency in the governance of risk, PLA Notes 40, 66-71. London: IIED in collaboration with The Commonwealth Foundation, ActionAid, DFID and SIDA.

ESRC Global Environmental Change Programme (1999). The Politics of GM Food: Risk, Science &Public Trust, Special Briefing No 5

Millstone, E. and Dixon, B. (1992) Our Genetic Future: the science and ethics of genetic technology, The British Medical Association, Oxford University Press.

Africa

Rusike, E. (2005) ‘Exploring food and farming futures in Zimbabwe: A citizens‘ jury and scenario workshop experiment ‘ in Leach, M, I. Scoones & B. Wynne (eds) Science and Citizens: Globalization and the Challenge of Engagement. Pp 249-55

Scoones, I (2005) Governing technology development: challenges for agricultural research in Africa IDS Bulletin Vol 36 No 2, IDS, Brighton

Mohamed-Katerere, J. (2003), Risk and rights: challenging biotechnology policy in Zimbabwe, IDS Working Paper 204, Biotechnology Policy Series 10. Brighton, UK: IDS

Rusike, E. (2003) Izwi neTarisiro – Zimbabwe’s Citizens Jury, SeedlingOctober 2003.

Saruchera, M. and Matsungo, O. (2003), Understanding Local Perspectives: Participation of Resource Poor Farmers in Biotechnology – The Case of Wedza District of Zimbabwe, Background Paper, IDS Biotechnology and the Policy Process in Developing Countries Project.

Mohamed-Katerere, J. (2001), Biotechnology and the policy process: Zimbabwe, Background Paper, IDS Biotechnology and the Policy Process in Developing Countries Project

China

Newell, P. (2008), ‘Lost in Translation? Domesticating Global Policy on GMOs: Comparing India and China’, Global Society Vol.22 No.1, pp. 115-136.

Keeley, J. (2006) Balancing Technological Innovation and Environmental Regulation: an Analysis of Chinese Agricultural Biotechnology Governance. Environmental Politics, Vol. 15, No. 2, 293 – 309,

Keeley, J. (2003), A biotech developmental state? The Chinese experience, Democratising Biotechnology: Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries Briefing Series, Briefing 11. Brighton, UK: IDS

Keeley, J. (2003), The biotech developmental state? Investigating the Chinese gene revolution, IDS Working Paper 207, Biotechnology Policy Series 6. Brighton, UK: IDS

Newell, P. (2003), Domesticating global policy on GMOs: comparing China and India, IDS Working Paper 206, Biotechnology Policy Series 12. Brighton, UK: IDS

Huang, J. Wang, Q. and Keeley, J. (2001) Agricultural biotechnology policy processes in China, Background paper, Biotechnology and the policy process in developing countries project

India

Newell, P. (2008), ‘Lost in Translation? Domesticating Global Policy on GMOs: Comparing India and China’, Global Society Vol.22 No.1, pp. 115-136..

Scoones, I (2007) Biotechnology in Bangalore: the politics of innovation. Towards Pro Poor Innovation, ID21 Insights, 68.

Scoones, I (2007) The contested politics of biotechnology: biotech in Bangalore. Science and Public Policy, 34: 261-271

Scoones, I (2006) Science, Agriculture and the Politics of Policy: the case of biotechnology in India. Orient Longman: Delhi

Newell, P. (2003), Domesticating global policy on GMOs: comparing China and India, IDS Working Paper 206, Biotechnology Policy Series 12. Brighton, UK: IDS

Pimbert, M. and Wakeford, T. (2003), Prajateerpu, power and knowledge: The politics of participatory action research in development. Part 1: Context, process and safeguards, Action Research 1 (2): 185-207

Scoones, I. (2003), Making policy in the ‘New Economy’: the case of Karnataka’s biotechnology policy, IDS Working Paper 196, Biotechnology Policy Series 13. Brighton, UK: IDS

Seshia, S. and Scoones, I. (2003), Tracing policy connections: the politics of knowledge in the Green Revolution and biotechnology eras in India, IDS Working Paper 188, Biotechnology Policy Series 21. Brighton, UK: IDS

Visvanathan, S. and Parmar, C. (2003), Reconstructing policy narratives: the Green Revolution story, Biotechnology Policy Series 16. Brighton, UK: IDS

Pimbert, M. and Wakeford, T. (2002), Prajateerpu: A citizens jury / scenario workshop on food and farming futures in Andhra Pradesh, India, London: IIED

Pimbert, M. and Wakeford, T. (2002), Prajateerpu: Food and Farming Futures for Andhra Pradesh: A Citizens’ Jury / Scenario Workshop,Economic and Political Weekly [India] 37 (27) (Review of Science Studies), 6-12 July: 2778-87

Visvanathan, S. and Parmar, C. (2002), A biotechnology story: notes from India, Economic and Political Weekly [India] 37 (27) (Review of Science Studies), 6-12 July: 2714-24

Pimbert, M., Wakeford, T. and Satheesh, P. V. (2001), Citizens’ juries on GMOs and farming futures in India, LEISA Magazine on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture 17 (4): 27-30

Latin America

Newell, P. (2009) ‘Bio-hegemony: The Political Economy of Agricultural Biotechnology in Argentina’, Journal of Latin American Studies,February.

Newell, P. (2009) ‘Technology, Food, Power: Governing GMOs in Argentina’ in Clapp, J & D. Fuchs (eds) Agro-Food Corporations, Global Governance, and Sustainability Cambridge: MIT press.

Newell, P. (2008) ‘Trade and biotechnology in Latin America: Democratization, Contestation and the Politics of Mobilization’, Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 8 No.2-3, pp. 345-376.

Newell, P. (2008) ‘Trade and biotechnology in Latin America: Democratization, Contestation and the Politics of Mobilization’ in Borras, S.M, M. Edelman and C. Kay (eds) Transnational Agrarian Movements Confronting Globalization Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, pp.177-209


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