How the debate over genetically modified crops in India is transforming science and politics Genetically modified or transgenic crops are controversial across the world. Advocates see such crops as crucial to feeding the world’s growing population; critics oppose them for pushing farmers deeper into ecological and economic distress, and for shoring up the power of agribusinesses. India leads the world in terms of the intensity of democratic engagement with transgenic crops. 

In Genetically Modified Democracy: Transgenic Crops in Contemporary India (Yale UP, 2022), anthropologist Aniket Aga excavates the genealogy of conflicts of interest and disputes over truth that animate the ongoing debate in India around the commercial release of transgenic food crops. The debate may well transform agriculture and food irreversibly in a country already witness to widespread agrarian distress, and over 300,000 suicides by farmers in the last two decades. Aga illustrates how state, science, and agrarian capitalism interact in novel ways to transform how democracy is lived and understood, and sheds light on the dynamics of technological change in populous, unequal polities.

Sneha Annavarapu is Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at Yale-NUS College.

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