June 17, 2022
Landscapes with Adam Cato featured a recent interview with University of Arizona Press author Andrew Flacks on his study of the role of seeds on farmer livelihoods in rural India as part of his book, Cultivating Knowledge.
In Cultivating Knowledge Flachs shows how rural farmers come to plant genetically modified or certified organic cotton, sometimes during moments of agrarian crisis. Interweaving ethnographic detail, discussions of ecological knowledge, and deep history, Flachs uncovers the unintended consequences of new technologies, which offer great benefits to some—but at others’ expense. Flachs shows that farmers do not make simple cost-benefit analyses when evaluating new technologies and options. Their evaluation of development is a complex and shifting calculation of social meaning, performance, economics, and personal aspiration. Only by understanding this complicated nexus can we begin to understand sustainable agriculture.
An article in Scientific American bringing a science and technology studies lens to Genetically Modified Organisms, provoked louder than normal responses from the pro biotech crowd. What can we learn from the exchange? Dr. Andrew Flachs, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University, studied the role of seeds on farmer livelihoods in rural India as part of his book, Cultivating Knowledge. We discuss the arguments of the article and its malcontents to try and reach a broader understanding of what this debate is really about.
Listen to the podcast here.