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Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton
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Ronald Herring: State Science and its Discontents: Why India's Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton

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STEPS Seminar given by Ronald J Herring, Cornell University. Institute of Development Studies, 9 December 2010.

STEPS Seminar given by Ronald J Herring, Cornell University. Institute of Development Studies, 9 December 2010.

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  • 1. State Science and its Discontents:Why Indias Second Transgenic Crop Did Not Follow the Path of Bt Cotton Ronald J. Herring Cornell University
  • 2. The Puzzle• Bt brinjal [Solanum melongena, eggplant, aubergine, baingan] follows Bt cotton – Same transgene, same protein: cry1Ac – Same regulatory system, same test methodology – Bt cotton performed as tested [Rao and Dev 2010] – Bt cotton now universal, Bt brinjal rejected• Simple answer: eggplant is a food crop• But… Simple answers are often deceptive – [and we are not in France]
  • 3. Science and Democracy• “I have to be sensitive to the public opinion; I have to be responsible to science.” – Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, explaining moratorium on Bt brinjal, 9-2-2010• Whose Public Opinion? What Science?• “…. slogan-shouting and protests cannot be allowed to cloud our scientific vision.” – Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan , opposing moratorium on Bt brinjal, 15-2-2010• The normative puzzle: Regulation and law assume settled science; democracy delivers difference. How can democracy deal with specialized expertise?
  • 4. “Why Does India Need Bt Brinjal?”
  • 5. “Why Does India Need Bt Brinjal?”• The fruit and shoot borer (FSB, Leucinodes orbonalis), fruit borer (H. armigera) and stem borer (E. perticella) – FSB Destroys up to 70% of crop (ECII) – Because of reproductive biology, FSB resists even heavy pesticide spraying
  • 6. State Science Answers: The Need for Bt Brinjal• “current practices … *extensive pesticides are+ not only harmful to the health and environment but also non-sustainable in brinjal crop.” >• “urgent need for developing alternative control strategies. “ [but no resistant traits in genome >• “transgenic crops engineered primarily using the cry proteins has given excellent results in cotton and maize worldwide resulting in significant economic benefits. A similar approach in brinjal is expected to provide substantial benefits to farmers.” (GEAC EC II 2009)
  • 7. How Would We Know? The Normal Science of Field Trials• Multi Location Research Trials [MRLT] of private sector Bt hybrids conducted by Mahyco 2004-5, 2005-6• Indian Council of Ag Research [ICAR] trials under All India Coordinated Research Improvement Project (AICRIP- Vegetables) of Mahyco Bt hybrids 2004-2007• Large scale trials of Mahyco Bt hybrids conducted by Indian Institute for Vegetable Research, IIVR, Varanasi 2007-2009• MLRT of public sector Bt brinjal OPV’s conducted by University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad 2007-08• MLRT of public sector Bt brinjal OPV’s conducted by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore 2007-08
  • 8. Conclusion on the Technology• “The data also indicates that all three target pests …. are highly susceptible to the Cry1Ac protein level expressed in Bt brinjal hybrids.”• “Bt brinjal hybrids yielded significantly higher marketable yield in all three trial models.”
  • 9. Summary Data on Mean Yields: Brinjal Field Trials (three trial modes, national data 2004-09)Brinjal Cultivar Marketable Bt Yield Yield DifferenceBt Hybrids 404.91 q/haNon-Bt counterparts 236.84 q/ha 71%National Checks 205.80 q/ha 97%Source MOEF, GEAC, EC II, 52
  • 10. Variance in Trial Yields, Brinjal Cultivars 2004-09 [means of three test modes]Cultivar Low [q/ha] High [q/ha]Bt Hybrids 293.45 MHB 10 Bt 638.02 MHBJ 99 BtNon-Bt 171.76 MHB 10 305.83 MHB 39counterpartsNational 189.70 221.90ChecksSource: ECII,53
  • 11. Economic Effects [means of three test modes]Cultivar Mean Cost of Economic Net Economic Pesticides Effect of Bt Advantage Bt Over Rs/ha Yield Increase Checks: Pesticide Cost Over Checks + Yield Effects [Rs/ha] Rs/haBt Hybrids 752Non Bt counterparts 5,952 64,800 69,239National Checks 5,920 80,800 85,291______________Source: GEAC ECII, 52
  • 12. Ministerial Preemption of State Science• October 2009 GEAC concluded: • Bt brinjal is "effective in controlling target pests, safe to the environment, non-toxic as determined by toxicity and animal feeding tests, nonallergenic and has potential to benefit the farmers."• Min of Envir and F rejected the GEAC decision, called a moratorium and planned public consultations – “The moratorium will continue for as long as it is needed to establish public trust and confidence.”• GEAC downgraded as institution of state science, from “Approval” committee to “Appraisal” committee.
  • 13. Ministerial Logic in Rejecting Transgenic Brinjals• Food safety – Séralini’s science: Hazards of Bt protein: organ toxicity• Subsidiary concerns – Biodiversity – but National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources rejects being cited as source – Monsanto – but more varieties in public sector than private hybrids: TNAU and post-office Bt brinjal seeds; Mahyco donated the gene
  • 14. Opposition in the States• No state supported, some bluntly opposed: – Kerala letter to MoEF: “State’s policy decision is not to allow GM crops, even field trials; declare a moratorium at least for the next 50 years…” – Uttarkhand (verbal communication): “Ban Bt Brinjal.”• Andhra Pradesh led the way: cp Bt cotton• All non-Congress states opposed “GMOs” in election manifestoes 2009• Urban stakeholders well organized and connected at state level, mirroring national level
  • 15. Split Cabinet Reflects Divides on Science and Scientists• Min of Envir position opposed by: – Min of Agriculture; Min of Science and Technology, Min of HRD – Indian Council for Agricultural Research; Department of Biotechnology; Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); Genetic Engineering Approval Committee• Minister’s Counter: “scientists are not Gods.” – But also “I may have been wrong.”• Developmental State vs Precautionary State
  • 16. Counter-Mobilization of Scientists: Too Little Too Late• Countervailing Epistemic Brokers – FBAE letter: European Food Safety Authority Analyzes and Dismisses the new Séralini Paper. – Hindustan Times [Eng/Hindi], 2-12- 2010 “Scientists slam key study behind Bt brinjal ban” – ISAAA mobilizes counter-Euros: Marc Van Montagu and Klaus Amman – Petition to Agriculture Minister: 540 scientists, 4- 23-10, Bangalore
  • 17. Obvious Answers to the Puzzle: Why Did Bt Brinjal Lose?• Consulted stakeholders were few and urban *8000, 7 cities+: cp M Lipton on “urban bias”• GEAC as institution damaged by Bt cotton• Coalition interests in retaining power cover over Cabinet split• Epistemic brokers powerful and active [P Bhargava, MS Swaminanthan] > uncertainty
  • 18. Residues of ‘Operation Cremate Monsanto’: Penumbra of Anxiety• Vandana Shiva (2006, 86): “These seeds kill biodiversity, farmers, and people’s freedom—for example, Monsanto’s Bt cotton, which has already pushed thousands of Indian farmers into debt, despair, and death. Bt cotton is based on what has been dubbed “Terminator Technology,” which makes genetically engineered plants produce sterile seeds.• “Pushed into deepening debt and penury by Monsanto-Mahyco and other genetic-engineering multinationals, the introduction of Bt cotton heralds the death of thousands of farmers. High costs of cultivation and low returns have trapped Indian peasants in a debt trap from which they have no other escape but to take their lives.”• “More than 40,000 farmers have committed suicide over the past decade in India—although the more accurate term would be homicide, or genocide.”• His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales October 5, 2008 “I blame GM crops for farmers suicides.”
  • 19. Why Did Brinjal Farmers’ Counter-Case Not Have Clout?• Nationally, brinjal farmers are few, unorganized, lacking economic linkages – Collective action hindered by diffusion of interests• States did not support their brinjal farmers as they had their cotton farmers: but why? – No Robin Hood, no stealth seeds, no demonstration effect: ~ preconditions for CA• Eggplant is not cotton
  • 20. Cotton is Embedded in Larger State and Commercial Interests• Forward linkages to textiles, about 5% GDP – Intensive Cotton Development Programme for improving technology, production, marketing – Technology Mission on Cotton from 2000 • Cotton Research and Technology Generation (Indian Council on Agriculture), Transfer of Technology and Development (Ministry of Agriculture) • Funding through Union and state governments • Tie in of private and public sector firms• International competition: China/Bangladesh – End of Multi-Fiber Agreement• Farmer organizations around cotton esp Gujarat
  • 21. Conclusions• There is [some] science about politics – Collective action theory matters – Framing has powerful political effects: cp Dehra Dun local – Outcomes create structural choke points – Path dependency is fundamental• Science is inherently vulnerable in politics – Cognitive distance + information costs > power of epistemic brokers – Epistemological commitments preclude closure – Politics makes impossible knowledge demands: to disprove negatives > uncertainty/caution • “Where there’s smoke there’s fire” in 55+ languages
  • 22. PrognosisThere Will Be Stealth Brinjal
  • 23. Official Science: Conclusion from Field Trials• 76-80% reduction in FSB insecticide; 42% reduction in total insecticide• Marketable yield increases substantial, variable with level of FSB infestation and market standards for fruit • High standard, 2004-06, more than doubled yield • 2004-06 ICAR > 2007-2009 IIVR [33-45% increase] • Farmer benefit of Rs 12,000 per hectare
  • 24. Effects on Yields and Incomes• IIVR estimated economic benefits from data in large-scale trials at 21 locations, in 10 states over two years (2007, 2008). – mean cost of sprays (based on ETL) was Rs. 752/ha in Bt hybrids, Rs. 5,952/ha and Rs. 5920/ha in non-Bt counterparts and national check. – estimated economic benefit due to increased marketable yield in Bt hybrids over non-Bt counterparts and check was Rs. 64800/- per ha and Rs. 80,800/- per ha. – net economic gain in Bt hybrids over the non-Bt counterparts has been estimated to be Rs. 69,239/- per ha and Rs. 85,291/- per ha over check hybrid.
  • 25. But Opposition Claims Risk• Risk = hazard x incidence• Food safety risk > Seralini’s paper on organ failure from cry proteins – Hazard= organ failure, incidence unknown• GEAC claims existing risk > evidence of extensive pesticides in brinjals – Hazard = envir damage, worker/farmer damage, consumer damage; incidence roughly known
  • 26. What Stakeholders Count? Who Gets Consulted?• Minister’s brinjal yatra of 7 cities, 8000 people present:• These 7 because:• “Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar were selected because West Bengal and Orissa account for 30% and 20% of Indias brinjal production respectively. Ahmedabad and Nagpur were selected because Bt cotton has been under extensive cultivation in Gujarat and Maharashtra over the past six years. Chandigarh was selected in order to allow farmers from the two agriculturally-advanced states of Punjab and Haryana to express their views. Hyderabad and Bangalore were selected because these are centres for biotechnology R&D.”

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