of GM Crops within Local Communities
Funded by the ESRC Science in Society Programme
Project reference number: RES-151-25-0046
August 2004 - July 2007
New farming technologies raise social issues as well as scientific,
agronomic and ecological ones. This is especially so in the case
of contentious technologies such as genetically-modified (GM)
crops. While much is now known about the public’s view
of GM crops, there has been little research into what farmers
This research will investigate the attitudes, intentions and
practices of farmers regarding the new technology of GM crops,
in relation to their social setting. Interviews with farmers
with and without experience of growing GM crops, and workshops
with their local community, will be used to:
• Explore how farmers’ social interactions (for
example, with their family, advisors and their local community)
contribute to their understanding of new technologies such
as GM crops
• Ascertain the acceptability to farmers of the management practices
recommended for GM crops
• Identify systems to support mutual learning among farmers and
their local community about such new technologies.
The research is based on a systemic approach. This involves
consideration of farmers, their farming activities and their
social setting as a whole – as a ‘human activity
system’. It involves concentrating on interactions and
relations between the different parts of the system, rather than
studying each part (such as the new technology) in isolation.
The research will be informed by theories about social learning – that
is, the type of mutual learning that occurs as a result of interactions
and networking among people within a community, rather than as
a result of information provided by outside ‘experts’.
The results will be used to develop recommendations for informing
policy and practice. Throughout the research team will seek the
advice and active involvement of key stakeholders. Towards the
end of the research, a workshop will be held with farmer participants
and other stakeholders, to develop recommendations about the
most appropriate ways to manage a new farming technology where
the likely impacts are unclear or contested.
Farmers Understandings of GM crops within local communities
What farmers say about new technologies and GM crops: A report on the initial telephone interviews.
What farmers say bout influences on their decisions about farming, new technologies and GM crops : A report on the farm visits
New technologies and scientific developments: Exploring better ways to support farmers' decisions
Oreszczyn, S & Lane A. (2005) 'Farmer responses to new agricultural technologies'. Paper presented at Flows & spaces in a globalised world. RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London.
Lane, A. & Oreszczyn, S. (2005) 'Should farmers be landscape planners too?' In McCollin, D. & Jackson, J. I. (2005) Planning People and Practice: The landscape ecology of sustainable landscapes. Proceedings of the 13th Annual (UK) Conference, University of Northampton.
Oreszczyn SM and Lane AB (2006) Farmers communities of practice and high-tech futures
This project is associated to the INNOGEN Research Centre http://www.innogen.ac.uk/
The Open University Staff:
Dr. Andy Lane
Dr. Sue Oreszczyn
Dr. Susan Carr.
Secretary: Marlene Gordon
Tel: 01908 654782
Contact for information:
Sue Oreszczyn, tel. O1908-653433
The Open University
Biotechnology Policy Group