Volume No. 12 Issue No.: 2 Page No.: 198-213 Oct.-Dec. 2017

 

ROLE OF NEW MEDIA, NGOs AND SOCIAL ADVOCACY GROUPS IN CREATING PUBLIC AWARENESS AND SHAPING PUBLIC ATTITUDE TOWARDS GM FOOD CROPS IN NORTH 24 PARGANAS, SOUTH 24 PARGANAS, NADIA AND HOOGHLY DISTRICTS OF WEST BENGAL, INDIA

 

Chatterjee Sreyasi

Department of Sociology at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, West Bengal (INDIA)

 

Received on : August 20, 2017

 

ABSTRACT

 

Genetically modified products are emerging as the defining technology for the future of agriculture and food systems in India. Though the commercial cultivation of Bt Cotton was approved in India in April 2002, there was an indefinite moratorium imposed on Bt Brinjal in 2010 and on GM mustard in 2016. These moratoriums were imposed fearing the potential risks of growing genetically modified food crops. Meanwhile in 2013, Bangladesh (Indiaís neighbouring country sharing borders with the Indian state of West Bengal) allowed for the commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal. This has increased apprehension among the general public in West Bengal who fear that the porosity of the Indo-Bangladesh border may result in the leaking of the genetically modified food crop into Bengalís environment. In this context, knowledge transfer with regard to GM crops is both complex yet critical in West Bengal. Initiatives to spread biotech information and awareness have been taken up by various agencies yet most of these initiatives only provide selected information to key stakeholders while the general public is left misinformed. The objectives of this research is to identify the role of new media, NGOs and social advocacy groups in spreading public awareness about GM food crops among residents of West Bengal. The research assesses whether the information dissemination agencies influence the public to view food risks as a threat to human security. The study uses interpretive methodology and quantitative methods like self-prepared questionnaire and depthinterviews. The findings of the study suggest that the new media, NGOs and social advocacy groups in West Bengal simply popularize alternatives like ecological agricultural initiatives like organic farming and they act as pressure groups on government agencies. These information dissemination groups do not act as catalysts or as motivating forces for the general public to be informed participants in the GM debate.

 

Keywords : Bt Brinjal, NGOs, Social advocacy, GM food crops, Public awareness

 

 

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