Key groups missing in GM debates

KEY STAKEHOLDERS in developing countries are being left out of the decision-making process about whether or not to grow GM crops, according to a new report from the Panos Institute in London.

The report is based on current research, case studies from Brazil, India, Kenya, Thailand and Zambia, and interviews with more than 100 people from a range of interest groups.

It found that consumer groups and NGOs tended to have good access to environment and health ministries but less contact with the more influential government departments of agriculture, science and trade.

Biotech companies, international donors and groups representing large-scale farmers, on the other hand, had access to all government departments, according to the study.

It also found that GM-critical NGOs had better access to policy-makers in countries with well-established, multi-party systems of government, and where news media were relatively free to report the inner workings of government.

The report argues that it is crucial that there are full public debates on the issue of whether or not to allow GM crop growing in developing countries, since decisions being made now will profoundly affect societies for generation to come.

Report author Ehsan Masood said one of the more worrying findings of the report was the lack of coverage about GM in non-English language media in three of the case-study countries.

“It begs the question – in how many more developing countries is this also the case?” Mr. Masood said.

The Panos Institute is an organisation aiming to stimulate informed and inclusive debate around key development issues in order to foster sustainable development.


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