We in the rich societies of the world don’t hear a lot about aflatoxin. It is probably one of the single largest causes of cancer in the developing world – particularly in Africa. Around a half a billion people are at risk from this toxin in their diet. At high doses it can cause acute poisoning and death. It also causes cognitive stunting in children exposed to it. Aflatoxin is a natural chemical that is made by a fungus called Aspergillus that can infect crops like corn, peanuts and tree nuts particularly when there is damage by insects and/or stress from drought. People like Americans are well protected from this threat by farmers who exercise control measures for the insects and disease, by an advanced food system that monitors for the issue in the harvested crops, uses proper storage conditions, and excludes it from what is sold to us. For instance the EU standard for maize is that it must have less than five parts per billion of aflatoxin. Unfortunately only 20% of the normal maize supply in Kenya meets that standard.
Biotechnology crops have been the center of public concern for a time. Critics have raised many issues against these crops which being devoid of scientific evidence have failed to gain ground. On the contrary, after more than 15 years of commercial use, biotech crops have demonstrated the immense benefits they can contribute in terms of economic productivity, environmental protection, and upliftment of the welfare of poor farmers in many parts of the world.
PUBLISHED BY: College of Development Communication, UP Los Baños (CDC-UPLB) The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) SEAMEO Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA)
CITATION: Torres, Cleofe S., Edmund G. Centeno, Romel A. Daya, Ma. Teresita B. Osalia, and Juvy N. Gopela. 2012. Adoption and Update Pathways of Biotechnology Crops: The Case of Biotech Farmers in Selected Provinces of Luzon. College of Development Communication, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) SEAsiaCenter, and SEAMEO Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA): Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.
But are the farmers adopting biotech crops aware of these benefits even before they start to plant these crops? With minimal or no knowledge at all on its purported benefits, how do they come to embrace such crops? Who influences them to try out the biotech crops and how is their adoption sustained? What are the dynamics of knowledge seeking and sharing among them? These are the key questions that this study probes into.
Complementing the statistics, the study also attempts to capture the process that the farmers go through as they acquire and eventually apply the knowledge and practices pertaining to cultivation of biotech corn. Beyond adoption, the study further elaborates on the dynamics of how farmers share their experience, good or bad, with other farmers in and outside their communities. There is indeed a variety of uptake pathways among farmer groups. It is noteworthy, that they do exhibit a certain pattern, and this is a growth point for new learning on the social processes that govern the farmers’ behavior towards biotech crops.
Download PDF copy from ISAAA website.