Dominic Glover, Sung Kyu Kim and Glenn Davis Stone
Technology in Society, February 2020 (Open Access)
Golden Rice (GR) is a much-debated transgenic crop. Many commentaries and economic analyses have assumed that, if and when the new GR varieties are released, the grains will automatically find their way onto the plates of children in especially poor families who are at risk of vitamin A deficiency (VAD). But many of these families are not rice growers or are unlikely to adopt the varieties into which the transgenic trait has been bred. This raises the neglected question addressed in this paper: How likely is it that commercial rice growers will choose to plant GR varieties?
To examine this question, we draw upon and contribute to a wider literature on what drives farmers’ seed selection practices. Seed choice has been a frequent case in the elaboration of technology adoption theory. We apply a recently proposed tripartite model of learning, and present new survey data to shed light on the dynamics of seed choice and variety replacement rates among rice farmers in two sites in Nueva Ecija, Luzon, the Philippines. We compare our findings with previous research on the seed choices of Indian cotton and rice farmers in Warangal, Telangana, India. Seed choices in Nueva Ecija show a moderate degree of faddishness and herding behaviour, and the varieties in which the GR trait are expected to be available have declined in popularity. Farmers here show a modest and variable susceptibility to persuasion by external parties that seek to promote specific rice varieties. Our study suggests that commercial rice farmers may not choose to plant GR varieties unless they are offered specific inducements to do so.