Seeds Treadmill 2005 Seed Store Survey: 78 brands; 54 <2 yrs old
Hybrid seeds repurchased from market Rapid change in brands Deceptive marketing
Trialing “Like the adoption of any new technology, people planted [Bt cotton] on smaller acres initially, but the ever-increasing Bollgard plantings demonstrate that the Indian farmer is willing to embrace a technology that delivers consistent benefits in terms of reduced pesticide use and increased income.” - Ranjana Smetacek, Director of Corporate Affairs for India, Monsanto 2002: 1 st box of Bt cotton in Perkevedu village
Impediments to Trialing Unrecognizability Hyper-rapid change Failure of “payoff information” for environmental learning Over-reliance on social learning when environmental learning is inaccurate/costly; --> agricultural deskilling Stone, G. 2007 Agricultural Deskilling and the Spread of Genetically Modified Cotton in Warangal. Current Anthropology 48:67-103. 2002: 1 st box of Bt cotton in Perkevedu village
Seed fads Little agro-ecological rationale 59% novice plantings 96% of cotton growers in a large village sample bought the same seed
Emergent Patterning in Longitudinal Decision-Making G.D.Stone, A. Flachs, C. Diepenbrock (2013) Rhythms of the Herd: Long Term Dynamics in Seed Choice by Indian Farmers. Technology in Society, 36:26-38.
Bt adopted GM seeds were not the original cause of deskilling, but they “may prove to alleviate symptoms [bollworm predation] at the expense of exacerbating the underlying cause [un-trialability from rapid change & unrecognizability] ” Stone, G. 2011 Field versus Farm in Warangal: Bt Cotton, Higher Yields, and Larger Questions. World Development 39(3):387-398. Unrecognizability and rate of change: now 6 events in > 1000 commercial hybrid seeds.
Stone, G. and A. Flachs. Unpublished manuscript.
Uncertainties: Benefits of reduced spraying come at cost of exacerbated problems in trialability? Where the system is heading in the longer term? Recall that the reason there was a demand for Bt technology in the first place were the problems caused by adoption of the previous round of technology. How much better is the genetic treadmill for farmers than the pesticide treadmill? Relevance for “developing countries” in general?