Staff at Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO) – University of Copenhagen

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GM plants, farmers and the public: a harmonious relation?

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The controversy in Europe over genetically manipulated (GM) foods has been conceived largely as a conflict between a reluctant public and a more enthusiastic agri-food sector. As a result, the political focus has been on the public to the neglect of other actors, such as the farmers, whose willingness to adopt GM technology is taken for granted. This article explores the case of herbicide-resistant GM plants with claimed environmental benefits. It is assumed that these claims satisfy public concerns and that farmers are not only willing to grow them but do so in a way that ensures that the envorinmental benefits are redeemed. Using interviews with Danish farmers, we argue, firstly, that it cannot be taken for granted that farmers will adopt GM plant, and secondly, that if they do, they are unlikely to manage them in such a way as to secure the expected environmental benefits. This is, on the one hand, the result of a conflict between the idea behind herbicide-resistant plants and what we conceptualise as harmony on the farm, and , on the other hand, the way farmers perceive nature in relation to the farm. In a wider perspective the problems illustrate a clash between an agricultural and GM policy based on post-productivist values and an agricultural sector still dominated by productivist values.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)258-272
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ID: 12795690