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GMOs a Tool of Colonialism? Debunking a Popular ‘Social Justice’ Myth


Some social justice activists alleged that Western companies use biotechnology to “colonize” the developing world. There isn’t a bit of evidence in support of this popular but very dangerous accusation. Today, many scientific discussions are shot through with social justice rhetoric , and the debate over food security in the developing world is no exception. Battling hunger isn’t just about raising living standards, in part, by giving farmers access to important technologies like biotech crops, but confronting “colonial legacies” and embracing “Indigenous knowledge systems.” Those of us who challenge this narrative have embraced a technocratic version of reform that “is colonial in its reliance upon and perpetuation of the logic of conquest.”

That’s according to an essay at The Counter called Decolonizing the GMO debate by Benjamin R. Cohen, a professor of engineering studies at Lafayette College. His Byzantine rhetoric comes from Critical Theory, which seeks “to make visible the underexamined or invisible presuppositions, assumptions, and power dynamics of society and question, criticize, and, especially, problematize them.” Starting with that view, Cohen’s specific complaint seems to be that Western GMO advocates are too invested in producing more food: By arguing that efficiency, quantity, and scale are the most important features […]

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