Tension on the Farm Fields: The Death of Traditional Agriculture?

Taking into account the historic transitions and progressions in agricultural science, this paper examines the emergence of the phenomenon of agricultural biotechnology. It identifies pivotal sites of tension between agricultural biotechnology and alternative approaches to agriculture. The paper identifies two distinct sources of contemporary social tension around agricultural science. First, it identifies the epistemological fault line and examines how the latter is promoted by intellectual property. Second, it spotlights the gene-wandering syndrome – a byproduct of genetic modification – and evaluates its impact on the escalating tension in our agricultural communities. Drawing from recent decisions in Canada, the paper recognizes the present urgency for a better jurisprudence and practical regulatory policy on aspects of agricultural biotechnology to mediate current tensions in those communities. It argues that judicial and policy response must be predicated on recognition of agro-epistemic pluralism and an understanding of broader socio-economic impact of agro-biotechnology on alternative forms of agriculture.


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