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There are several different perspectives from which genetic modification (GM) technology has been criticised, including ecofeminism, environmentalism and anti-capitalism or anti-colonialism. Each of these frameworks for understanding the GM issue has important insights to offer, but also affects the strategies that activists adopt in their attempts to oppose the spread of GM technology. Strategies also depend on whether activism is seen as opposing or providing alternatives to GM technology. This focus looks at the way in which the GM issue has been constructed in Karnataka, India, where it has primarily been framed within an anti-colonialist, pro-farmer discourse. Analysing the issue through this lens has had several positive effects, including a foregrounding of the effects of GM technology on agricultural producers and several actions that have brought attention to the issue. Unfortunately, it has also meant that women’s concerns and participation have been overlooked or sidelined. The anti-GM movement in Karnataka also includes groups and individuals who frame the GM debate as an environmental and social justice issue, focusing their work on seed conservation and organic farming, among other methods. This aspect of the movement has received less attention and is not entirely unproblematic, but it has opened up possibilities for increased participation by women in the movement, as well as for improvements in women’s status and conditions.
GM crops, India, social movements, seed banks, women’s participation
Four hundred Indian farmers join with activists from Europe and from other Southern movements in the Intercontinental Caravan of Solidarity and Resistance. The Caravan travels around Europe for a month, linking up with local movements, staying in squats, planting organic vegetables, protesting outside the offices of NATO and several large corporations, burning GM crops, holding public meetings.
In the southern Indian state of Karnataka, activists contact the owners of three fields in which test crops of genetically modified cotton are being grown. They arrive, occupy two of the fields1 and uproot and burn the crops. The media is invited to watch this act of civil disobedience, part of the ‘Cremate Monsanto’ campaign.
In D Kurubarahalli village in Karnataka,
Framing genetically modified crops: where do women fit into the picture?
Like all social movements. and there is significant overlap with other movements. many of the activities that have gained less attention have been built on women’s knowledge and involvement. Papamma and other women like her throughout India have managed to save hundreds of crop varieties that would otherwise have been lost (Pailoor. particularly by those who are most vulnerable. The ‘first green revolution’. its membership fluid. They have helped to publicise the GM debate internationally and have played a role in international networks of farmers. in part because it is based on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). it has not always created spaces for women’s participation. including soil damage and the loss of agricultural biodiversity. India. Intercontinental Caravan and the saving of seeds are all part of the growing resistance to the ‘second green revolution’. women are taking part in seed conservation. Efforts to challenge the changes and explore alternatives. are worth attention. forms the backbone of the opposition to GMOs in Karnataka. Groups and individuals that take part in the movement do not always share the same analysis or tactics. the anti-GM movement is both firmly rooted in local conditions and concerns to while simultaneously connected international Women need the opportunity to make their concerns heard and be a part of the debates that will shape their future The current green revolution has the potential to have an even greater effect on human food production systems and on the environment. While systems women have the traditionally developing played world. The farmers’ movement. particularly those which focus on presenting alternatives to green revolution technologies. a significant role in indigenous agricultural throughout the commercialisation of agriculture and other developments has meant that in many places decision-making has been taken out of their hands. environmentalists and peoples’ movements. its borders are somewhat blurry. the technology need to include women to succeed. 2007). Developing world movements against GM networks and debates.focus Papamma runs the Community Seed Bank. However. Research methodology This discussion of women’s involvement in antiGM activism will focus on the movement based in Karnataka. the ‘first green revolution’ has also been blamed for a variety of problems. In addition. which began in the 1950s. radically changed the face of agriculture and centred on the extensive use of fertilisers. and women also need the opportunity to make their concerns heard and be a part of the debates that will shape their future. The burning of cotton in Karnataka. high yielding crop varieties (HYVs) and large-scale monocropping. While much of the activism undertaken by those opposing GM crops has been effective in gaining visibility for the debate. She convinces her neighbours to grow vegetables and medicinal plants around their gardens. festivals and other small-scale activities that more directly target the grassroots. While activists from Karnataka have not reached the same level of prominence the as Vandana prominent Shiva. While some commentators argue that it saved India and other developing countries from famine and was instrumental in feeding a rapidly growing global population. but the two are not identical. for example. they have taken part in activism that has gained significant attention in India and abroad. Indian who critic remains most of GMOs internationally. 34 AGENDA 73 2007 . Instead of confrontative protests and large actions.
renegotiated. Karnataka has therefore become something of a battleground in the GM debate. Framing genetically modified crops: where do women fit into the picture? 35 . The movement against GMOs in Karnataka. has become something of a battleground in the GM debate. 1995:336). just as they are in most other nations. has implications not only for the struggle over how agriculture will develop – it also has the potential to affect whose voices are included in the decision-making process and how that process works. are still underrepresented in Indian politics. The opportunities available to women are still limited. social movements make explicit and implicit arguments for new ways of doing politics. including Via Campesina and Peoples’ Global Action. There are also many groups that are working within Karnataka on the preservation and improvement of traditional agricultural techniques and seed varieties. among other groups. particularly for those from poorer backgrounds or oppressed castes and ethnicities. the centre of India's booming biotech industry. IRIN Karnataka. being both the centre of India’s booming biotech industry and the site of some of the largest anti-GM protests in the world. social movements also have broader effects on the political and social structures which they are embedded in. then. While the questions being raised by this movement are important. as a form of governance’ (Wapner. and this movement is no exception. Women. As well as making specific demands.focus DAVID SWANSON. rooted in the actual experience of ordinary people. Social movements are spaces in which alternative political models are tested and are efforts ‘to use activism itself. Social movements are one space in which gender relations are being reworked.
1990). particularly economic and food security issues. Several significant studies have already been made of the anti-GM movement in Karnataka2 of the farmers’ movement that forms its backbone. 2001:144). several other critiques of GM technology and its use in agriculture. There are. ‘playing God’ or treating non-human beings as if they are merely resources to be modified at our convenience. it is necessary to understand that there are many different critiques of these technologies. Perspectives which foreground intellectual property issues are related to those which focus on environmental issues. 2001). however. Where the ‘first green revolution’ was the result of public research efforts and the seeds and techniques developed were frequently distributed through public agencies. these concerns have also been raised but others. protests and workshops and analysis of activist literature. but they frame the GM issue differently. There are various limitations to this research. In India. the emphasis has been on possible effects on environmental and consumer safety. I have also attempted to situate my study of this movement within the wider context of anti-GM activism in India and internationally. In the developed world. along with South Africa. the current wave of research has been primarily driven by the private sector. not out of humanitarian or even political considerations but because these countries are seen by Monsanto and other multinational corporations as bridgeheads for wider adoption of GM crops in the ‘expanding markets’ of the developing world (Scoones. have been raised about the build-up of toxins in the food chain. Initially. have been at the forefront of the debate. and I have drawn extensively on this material.focus The fieldwork for this project was carried out in 2006 and involved over 20 semi-structured interviews as well as observations of meetings. Brasil. academics and key figures within the movement were contacted and further interviewees were approached through a process of snowball sampling. Studies of social movements call the process by which reality is made meaningful Some of the opposition to genetically modified organisms is based on a moral standpoint about the sanctity of life In examining the opposition to GM crops. and the use of multiple information sources is intended to give a breadth of perspectives that would not be available by basing research solely on interviews. cross-pollination of wild varieties. biotechnologies are tightly controlled by the companies that patent them (Josling and Nelson. Some critiques are related to an aspect of the current green revolution that has often received little attention: the role of the private sector in today’s agricultural research. Those who take this view argue that GM technology is inherently blasphemous or disrespectful because it tampers with the very building blocks of life. and these critiques often foreground different concerns. China and Argentina. The private sector is therefore playing a far larger role today than it did during the ‘first green revolution’. Some of the opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is based on a moral standpoint about the sanctity of life (Herring. India. This has meant that instead of the technologies involved becoming freely (or at least affordably) available. 2005:4). Concerns 36 AGENDA 73 2007 . Many of the criticisms being raised are therefore intimately tied to a concern with the growing power of multinational corporations (MNCs) and a critique of neoliberal globalisation. and the development of new technologies is predominantly being driven by the drive for profit. is targeted as a site for broader adoption of GM crops. damage to insect life or to soil ecosystems and other related issues. not all of which necessarily involve a complete rejection of GM technology (Walgate.
a group with a pacifist frame is unlikely to organise violent demonstrations.focus BRENNON JONES. The KRRS has historically been very strong in Karnataka. and the fervour with which they adopted the issue ensured that their frame has Framing genetically modified crops: where do women fit into the picture? 37 . For example. The frame that participants of a social movement adopt also has implications for which solutions are pursued and how they are pursued. and by which a certain state of affairs is described as a problem or injustice ‘framing’. the GM issue has largely been framed as a threat to farmers and as part of a wider struggle against MNCs and international trade and finance agreements. In Karnataka. KRRS) who has addressed the issue predominantly through the lens of their pre-existing activism around farmers’ economic conditions and their opposition to neoliberal globalisation. IRIN The ‘first green revolution’ has been blamed for a variety of problems. plays a key role in the movements’ project. 1986:464). The way in which an issue is framed also has implications for whose voices are listened to and whose participation is sought in movement activities. The frame adopted by social movement participants. In the case of the opposition to GM crops. including soil damage and the loss of agricultural biodiversity. This is to a large part because of the adoption of the issue by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (Karnataka State Farmers’ Association. Resistance to GM crops is described as a ‘second independence movement’. as it ‘function[s] to organise experience and guide action’ (Snow et al. then. groups that use an environmental frame for understanding the issue often have different tactics to those who foreground the interests of farmers or those who see it as a religious matter.
‘agricultural labourers are not committing suicide here. West Bengal. it is enough if you can get enough food. a ‘farmer may not only commit suicide. ‘Farmer’s diet worse than a convict’s’. Orissa. 2002:3). Okay – if I [as a university professor] don’t have a job I cannot beg. She will pay the price all her life’ (P Sainath. explaining Resistance. the dominant caste – they would like to always live a dignified life. other actors within the movement have also contributed to the debate and foregrounded different frames of analysis. The Hindu [online]. those who are wealthy enough to be growing for the market rather than for subsistence. 2005:4). Kerala. because of my socio-economic position. emphasising an environmental and social justice frame. The exact cause of the suicides is still a matter of some controversy – although most agree that it is related to indebtedness. in some cases. So when you have such a base and the economic base is dwindling. I cannot ask you for any money. especially cotton-growing areas. hopelessness results. and even when the family is left alive. Punjab. but Karnataka. been hard hit (Stone. The first GM crop to be introduced in India was Monsanto’s Bt cotton imported by Mahyco in 1995 and marketed under the trade name of Bollgard. Sharma. 2004). Tamil Nadu. bollworm is only one of several important pests (Stone. These frames coexist and interact. ‘Her husband took his own life. Haryana. 2001:11-12). including the cotton and pink bollworms and the tobacco budworm. there is still debate about what stands behind these debts (the KRRS. which produces a pesticide within the plant that kills some of the insects that commonly feed on cotton. the most serious pests for American cotton farmers (Nelson.. However. Andhra Pradesh has been the epicentre of the phenomenon. One scholar3 noted that. Greenpeace India and the Environment Support Group have addressed the issue through an environmental frame. the resulting economic burden is likely to lead to great hardship. however. The KRRS took up the issue in 1998 as part of the ‘Cremate Monsanto’ campaign. said of one widow. 29 May 2007). So these suicides come from a position of hopelessness’. As Sunanda Jayaram. This cotton contains genetic material from Bacillus thuringiensis. focusing their efforts on information-gathering and dissemination. president of the women’s wing of the Puttanaiah faction of the KRRS. While the majority of those who commit suicide are men. developing over time and receiving different levels of attention. The Green Foundation and the Institute for Social Research and Action (ISRA) are among those working with small farmers. although several years of illegal plantings occurred before then (Scoones. Debate over GM crops was largely sparked by the implication of Bt cotton in a wave of farmer suicides that has struck India since the mid-1990s. Madhya Pradesh. lobbying and legal challenges. While much of the attention has been directed at the men who have killed themselves.. the peasantry are in the middle. 2002. The suicides have taken place in rural areas throughout India. But there. he kills his children’4. The main victims have been cotton farmers. Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have also 38 AGENDA 73 2007 . Vandana Shiva and others have made links between farmer suicides and GM seeds). this phenomenon also has devastating effects on the rest of the family. The first significant opposition to the use of GM crops in India began around Bt cotton in 1998. but he kills his wife. The cotton was not approved for commercial release until March 2002. In India.focus been the dominant one within the movement. just as movement participants do. Because he or she is from a low background.
the suicides as the result of international free trade agreements and the extension of foreign agricultural companies into the Indian market. IRIN Debate over GM crops was sparked by the implication of Bt cotton in a wave of farmer suicides that has struck India since the mid-1990s. Framing genetically modified crops: where do women fit into the picture? 39 . which began in 1992 and explicitly made connections with the Salt Satyagraha of the independence era: ‘If the charka [spinning wheel] was the symbol of Indian independence. but little is known about others who may be affected by GM crops. the Seed Satyagraha. This was also linked into an earlier national campaign. They also established what Herring (2001:3) calls a ‘brilliant verbal jujitsu’ that linked farmer suicides to ‘suicide seeds’5. Numerous studies of the farmer suicides have been undertaken. and the leadership of the KRRS has historically been and remains dominated by men. This firmly and effectively framed the resistance to GM crops and ‘foreign’ seeds as an anti-colonial struggle focused around the protection of farmers. it also placed men squarely in the centre of the picture.focus SAGAR SHRESTA. Environmental studies of the buildup of toxins in the food chain and the possible contamination of other agricultural ecosystems are being undertaken. Unfortunately. Most of the farmers who have killed themselves have been men. the seed is the symbol of the protection of this independence and the farmers’ culture’ (KRRS in Assadi. but these only indirectly address questions about how GM crops may affect subsistence farmers and other marginalised groups. the farmers who the KRRS has traditionally represented are usually men who are able to grow for the market rather than purely for subsistence. 2004:208).
focus There is also a danger that the protection of ‘farmers’ culture’ that the KRRS and some other groups within the anti-GM movement often advocate will lead to a reification of an inferior status for women or the idealisation of an archetypal femininity associated with land. In its actions 40 AGENDA 73 2007 . However. This is not to say that this is deliberate – quite the opposite is true. there are substantial barriers to women’s participation in public protests. few Indian women were involved. One aspect of this is the way in which the kinds of protest that are associated with this ‘second independence movement’ often subtly discourage women’s participation. the street protests and public speeches’. 1999). HP Dwarakanath. Both the rhetoric and the practical conditions of the KRRS’s adoption of the GM issue have together worked to some extent to reinforce women’s place at the edge of the picture rather than in the foreground.6 While public protests have been tremendously useful in bringing attention to concerns about the implications of GM technology. Some European women acting as bus conductors experienced disrespect or harassment from the men (Ainger. attempted to include women in the movement’s structures. mobilisations and programmes and has declared itself in favour of the elimination of patriarchy.000 women from a tribal women’s organisation in Orissa made a bonfire of hybrid and GM seeds of cotton and other crops to draw attention to their demand that the state be declared organic (GM Watch. discrimination and exploitation’ (KRRS. the KRRS has focused on ‘open. 1998a:152). especially where the risk of confrontations or time in prison is involved. announced act[s] of civil disobedience’ (Nanjundaswamy. along with ‘all other forms of oppression. Azadi Bachao Andolan. 2003:164). for example by participating in mobilisations against celebrations of the Miss Universe ceremony in India. The KRRS has made several determined efforts to take a progressive stand on women’s position in society. It is not impossible for women to take part in protests such as these – in 2005. and even the European women involved were not always entirely comfortable while participating. against GM crops. which is rare among the women that she knows. regeneration and the transmission of cultural values that suppresses the voices of women. But they are not coming to the street fights. While the Caravan made many achievements. although the Intercontinental Caravan was an amazing feat of organisation. Involvement in the trip meant spending significant time away from home. Shyla Dwarakanath says that her participation is only possible because her husband gives her support. in fact. Similarly. who works with another Indian movement. It has also demanded the reservation of a minimum number of seats in parliament for women. more than 3. in large part because the analysis and tactics that flow from its anti-colonial frame do not easily foreground women’s perspectives. which is harder for women who are considered responsible for the care of children and domestic affairs. including the occupation and destruction of two test fields of Bt cotton and the occupation of Cargill offices. 2005). says that women ‘are participating in protests. the KRRS has not been able to fully translate this commitment into real changes at societal level or within the organisation itself. it seems not to have actively Public protests have been tremendously useful in bringing attention to concerns about the implications of GM technology Unfortunately. which indicates a neglect of efforts to address gendered power structures and encourage women’s participation. nowadays they are participating. campaigned against dowries and alcohol. they have not done as much to encourage women’s participation.
much of the work for alternatives has aimed at the grassroots and has been far less dramatic.and alternatives The public destruction of GM crops. the cost of which has risen dramatically over recent years. It should be noted that placing value on indigenous knowledge does not imply returning to an unchanging. but these protests are only one side of the story. Compost. The KRRS says that it accepts or rejects technologies not according to whether they are new or old but rather through considering ‘factors. and pests are controlled through the application of home-made pest deterrents or by companion planting. many of which fell into disuse during the ‘first green revolution’. While the actions against GM crops have often been deliberately symbolic and aimed to gain media attention. and mulching and other measures are put into place to conserve water. fertilising and mulching crops as well as rotation systems that help to keep the soil healthy. Groups like the Green Foundation draw on the skills of scientists and carry out research into different agricultural technologies. Framing genetically modified crops: where do women fit into the picture? 41 . ‘They watch plants grow through their whole lifecycle and are bestplaced to select the seeds’ (Ramprasad. in part because of the long association in India. tempered by a knowledge of the need to fit new technologies to local conditions. Farmers are encouraged to plant many different crops. 1998b:157). in part because they have focused on different arenas and strategies. as in many other countries. herbicides and so on. the occupation of Cargill warehouses and the Intercontinental Caravan were all impressive actions in their own ways. Opposition to a ‘biotech revolution’ does not imply an unthinking rejection of all improvements or of science itself. They are involved in weeding. . pesticides. cow dung and/or crop rotation is used to improve the soil. Humans have developed domestic plant and animal varieties for hundreds of years. idealised past. even on small plots. harvesting crops and collecting grains. 2002:31). deliberately and skilfully breeding them for increased yields and other desirable traits. The alternatives being proposed have received less attention and have not always been recognised as part of the opposition to GMOs and commercial biotechnology. more a social justice and environmental issue than an anticolonial struggle. Traditionally. New agricultural technologies have come and gone. whether it is labour-intensive or capital-intensive and other political criteria’ (Nanjundaswamy. including methods of irrigation.. The alternatives being suggested draw on traditional seed varieties and agricultural techniques. Organic agriculture and seed conservation is also an alternative that provides a lot of room for women’s participation. The struggle against a ‘second green revolution’ must involve a vision of a better alternative if it is to have any hope of succeeding.focus built a space for women’s participation in the movement against GM technology and trade liberalisation. such as whether the technology can be directly operated and managed by the people who use it. Opposition to a ‘biotech revolution’ does not imply an unthinking rejection of all improvements or of science itself The alternative being presented by the antiGM movement in Karnataka involves traditional techniques but also a willingness to experiment and learn. After all. This work has framed the GM debate primarily in terms of support for agricultural biodiversity and organic agriculture.. between women and seed saving. They involve cutting down or entirely ceasing the purchase of fertilisers. 1998b:157). women choose how much and which seed to store. ‘there is no sense in dividing resistance and alternatives since none of them can take place without the other’ (Nanjundaswamy.
arguably. the elderly and even to many men. Seed festivals are one way in which indigenous food crops and local seed varieties are being promoted through music. and there have been several calls for more attention to the area (e. which may affect their participation in protests. 2002:34-35). Ferree and Merrill. and many of these are either organised by women or have a focus on women’s participation. indigenous grains that grow well on arid land. 11 February 2007) describe the festival as an attempt to revive the use of millets. many of which are maintained predominantly by women. Emotions play a key role in convincing people to become part of a movement or support its goals: it is not enough 42 AGENDA 73 2007 . There are very many injustices which women as well as men have a right to be angry about. events that are based on a public display of joy. of course. you must also convince them to care. and it is important to remember that. a focus on conserving biodiversity through seed conservation acts to foreground and facilitate women’s involvement. a group that has many links with the movement in Karnataka.g. may be more accessible and more appealing to women as well as to children. the Mobile Biodiversity Festival. 2000. songs. 2000). Another aspect of this is the need to recognise that the public expression of some emotions is more socially acceptable than others. present in the running of community seed banks around India. it subtly reinforces the idea that rational political actors are men. emotions play a role in guiding activism and rightly so (Ferree and Merrill. is organised by dalit7 women farmers from Deccan Andhra in conjunction with the Deccan Development Society. displays of seed and traditionally-prepared meals. decorated carts. another may be more resistant and can be planted in its place. Kohli and Bhutani (‘Celebrating agro-diversity’.focus Women also play a central role in many rituals and celebrations that acknowledge the importance of seed. Further to this. Men as well as women are emotional beings. that women never publicly express anger or that they should not do so. love or even amusement. This is not to say. not through ‘black and white memorandums’ but to convince others that your arguments are right. 1997). However. such as the seed festivals and other such events. although this in now changing. One of these. and that the range of socially acceptable emotions for each gender is different. While public protests act to subtly discourage women’s participation. although Gandhi’s injunction to non-violent protest that is based on compassion rather than anger has strong points. 2005:17). This festival and others like it being held throughout Karnataka and the rest of India are inclusive rather than confrontational. The previous failure to attend to emotions is not only a barrier to fully understanding activism but also subtly reinforces the idea that ‘rational’ political actors are unemotional. Community seed banks are vital to sustainable agriculture because they ensure that farmers have a range of crop varieties that suit local conditions and that they can access in case of a particularly bad attack of pests or viruses – where one crop variety is hit. as femininity is often associated with emotionality. for all of us. The Hindu [online]. Benford. A collective spirit of love and care is. Seed festivals are one way in which indigenous food crops and local seed varieties are being promoted. Anger or outrage are not necessarily emotions that women are encouraged to express publicly. many of which are important in the testing of seed quality (Ramprasad. They present information on the alternatives to ‘green revolution’ farming methods but they also tap into and celebrate ‘local cultural and emotional aspects of biodiversity’ (Apte. Emotions have traditionally been neglected in the study of social movements.
The current international patent regime allows companies to charge patent fees that are several times the cost of the seed itself. tribals and dalits. Women’s participation has been encouraged through the efforts of NGOs – women farmers do most of the work involved in seed banks. Community seed banks are also vital if farmers are to have access to affordable alternatives to GM seeds. including from women like Papamma who refused to switch away from traditional seeds (Pailoor. require more than just a physical stock of seeds. farmers identify the crop varieties that were used before the ‘first green revolution’. Farmers ‘borrow’ seed from the bank on the condition that they return twice as much the next year. buying commercial seed. For other farmers. however. which crops will suit local conditions. which now store around 500 varieties of 30 crops throughout Karnataka (Pailoor. particularly expensive GM seed. 2007). the seeds need to be accompanied by knowledge about how and where to use different crop varieties. this knowledge has been devalued and MANOOCHER DEGHATI. IRIN Women play a central role in many rituals and celebrations that acknowledge the importance of seed. The partnership between women in local communities and NGOs has gone a long way towards preserving crop varieties that would otherwise have been lost. making them very expensive. Framing genetically modified crops: where do women fit into the picture? 43 . and they have to rely on saved seed. Community seed banks therefore provide the most basic necessity for a real alternative to GM crops: choice. is simply not an option. Women’s traditional role in seed saving and preservation means that they are often the custodians of extensive knowledge about which soil certain seeds will grow well in. including women. The accessibility of seed affects all farmers but particularly those who are likely to be less well-off. Seed banks. Often. Many farmers take out loans to buy seeds based on the expectation of a good crop.focus These seed banks are important because the ‘first green revolution’ resulted in the decimation of the range of crop varieties available to farmers in the developed and developing world. These seeds are then collected through different channels. The ‘second green revolution’ is likely to exacerbate this trend. When seed banks are set up. 2007). They are built on networks of reciprocity and communication. and if they are to be useful. a strategy that can prove ruinous if the crop fails or under-performs. as the amount of time and money invested in developing each GM crop means that the focus for large companies will be on a few key crops rather than on providing a wide range of options. and so on. usually through a partnership between a community and a nongovernmental organisation (NGO).
in Transnational Institute of British Geography. Apte T (2005) An activist approach to biodiversity planning: a handbook of participatory tools used to prepare India’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. 44 AGENDA 73 2007 . Notes 1 The owner of the third field changed his mind about allowing the activists to destroy the crops. in Contemporary Sociology. 197-215. 5 The term ‘suicide seeds’ was used to refer to ‘terminator’ or sterile seed technology which produces seeds that cannot be resown. 29. Both resistance and alternatives are important to the struggle over the future of agriculture. If women’s participation in the debate about GMOs is to be meaningful and effective. 160-170.gmwatch. Bangalore. While there is much to take courage from in the work of those involved in the movement in Karnataka. but it can have significant implications for women’s participation in the movement. there are also lessons to be learnt and questions that need to be raised. are realising that local knowledges may have insights that decontextualised science has not. and women need to be placed in the foreground of that discussion. their current involvement needs to be a platform for broader changes within the movement. marginalisation and empowerment in Karnataka. there is a risk that women’s traditional roles will merely be reinforced through such practices and that women will be relegated to position of caretakers and cheap labour. opens up possibilities for increased status. for example. in The 2001 Mary Keatinge Das Lecture. 3. Bangalore: KRCR – JPC Publications. India. they also recognise women’s knowledge as valuable and put women in a position where they are able to have a greater influence on village affairs and participate in the broader seed conservation movement (Pailoor. and the way in which each is pursued will have implications not only for whether GMOs are more widely adopted but also for how we make decisions about different technologies and who is included in the political process. but now more and more people. Scoones (2005) and Herring (2001). GM Watch (2005) ‘GM seeds burnt by more than 3000 tribal women’. in Notes from Nowhere (ed) We are everywhere: the irresistible rise of global anticapitalism. India.org/archive2. 2 Including those by Featherstone (2003). asp?arcid=5032. including many within the scientific establishment. The work of women involved in community seed banks and seed festivals. 3 Author’s interview with P Kammaradi. in J Desrochers and PV Veliyannoor (eds) Poverty. 19 March 2006. 7 In the Indian caste system. The References Ainger K (2003) ‘Life is not business: the intercontinental caravan’. material benefits and better food security. 4 Author’s interview with Sanghita. site accessed 1 February 2006. according to traditional Hindu belief is an untouchable or an outcaste. 28. London and New York: Verso. Conclusion The difference between framing this issue as a matter of opposing GM crops and multinational corporations’ role in Indian agriculture and promoting alternatives like the conservation of indigenous seeds and organic agriculture may seem small. 4. not only in Karnataka but also in other parts of the world. London: International Institute of Environment and Development. way in which anti-GM and other activism is framed and pursued needs to be considered and discussed. 454-462. Pandora’s Jug: conflicts around genetically engineered organisms in India’. Assadi MH (2004) ‘Social movements in Karnataka’. available at www. Terminator technology was never used in India and has been banned under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Mysore. Azadi Bachao Andolan. 2006. a dalit. Bangalore. although there are currently several patents underway that would accomplish a similar effect. However. 6 Interview by the author with Shyla and HP Dwarakanath.focus criticised for being ‘unscientific’. 22 January 2006. 2007). 404-421. India. Community seed banks not only benefit farmers. Cold Cognition: thinking about social movements in gendered frames’. Ferree MM and Merrill DA (2000) ‘Hot Movements. Herring RJ (2001) ‘Promethean Science. New York: Columbia University. Featherstone D (2003) ‘Spatialities of transnational resistance to globalization: the maps of grievance of the InterContinental Caravan’.
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