Although the growth of GM crops has been dramatic, its uptake has not been the smooth transition predicted by its advocates. Our strategic question is: Unless we examine why GM crops have not been universally accepted as a public good, we will fail to understand the conditions under which ‘GM crops can help to feed the world’. To answer this question we will undertake a programme of fieldwork within and across three ‘rising powers’: India, Mexico and Brazil. Our research will be transformative at three levels: (1) intellectually, we will enrich the debate at the level of culture and ontology; (2) methodologically, aided by theological and anthropological scholarship, we will attend to the meanings of GM crops and foods and how they are embedded in practice; and (3) pragmatically, we will develop deliberative methodologies to engender a broader set of options for GM policy and agenda setting. Our objective is to highlight the distinctive political, anthropological and cultural dynamics to the debate on GM crops across Brazil, India and Mexico. Concrete outputs include: three national workshops, three national reports, three research articles, one international policy summit, one policy toolkit, four paper presentations, four academic articles, one edited volume, one dedicated project website, capacity building activities and a policy briefing. The aim of the project is: (1) to add to academic scholarship on the comparative politics of GM, the role of culture and religion, and governance; (2) to assist in the production of a more reflexive policy culture in which actors better understand the complexity of GM framings and the need for culturally-sensitive regulatory and technology assessment; and (3) to build capacity among local stakeholders and in partner institutions. Our long-term vision is to develop a model of social science that engages with and contributes to policy and scientific debates on GM technology assessment and appraisal.
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