Tracing policy connections: the politics of knowledge in the Green Revolution and biotechnology eras in India

Tracing policy connections: the politics of knowledge in the Green Revolution and biotechnology eras in India

Exploring global and local knowledge interactions during the Green Revolution and biotechnology eras

This paper compares policy making in the "Green Revolution" and "biotechnology" eras to explore the dynamic interaction of global and more local knowledge about agriculture, food and rural development.

The paper argues that the biotechnology era is unquestionably different from the Green Revolution, in a number of key respects:

  • the nature and complexity of policy narratives associated with agriculture, food security and poverty
  • the types, numbers and networks of actors inside and outside the state involved in policy making
  • the form and location of expertise and sites of policy making, from the local to the global
  • the nature and extent of policy debate, controversy and dissent

The authors suggest that more attention needs to be paid to the important differences in policy context and process if some of the challenges of the biotechnology era are to be met.

Main findings include:

  • policy emphases have shifted from a focus on national food self sufficiency and nation building in a planned economy to engaging with a liberalised, highly unequal and uncertain global market economy, liberalisation and trade issues
  • agricultural policy debates have shifted from small scale farming for food production to agriculture as a globally competitive industry. The result has been a move from the involvement of relatively few players in the policy process to multiple players, including many non state actors each with global connections
  • funding flows have changed from international philanthropy with state support to an increasing reliance on the private sector. This is associated with different practices of science and from research premised on the free exchange of knowledge to research governed by intellectual property concerns and commercial confidentiality
  • given the present focus of policies on creating enabling environments for private sector research and development, it is important that food security is brought back onto policy agendas

[Adapted from author]

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