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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Peter M. Haas

Second Advisor

Frederic C. Schaffer

Third Advisor

Kevin Young

Fourth Advisor

James K. Boyce

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | Comparative Politics | Environmental Policy | Environmental Studies | Food Security | Growth and Development | International Relations | Latin American Studies | Politics and Social Change | Public Policy | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Science and Technology Policy


There has been heated debate over transgenic or genetically modified (GM) crops in agriculture. Advocates and critics argue over possible economic, environmental, public health implications of this technology. This study examines varying policy approaches to regulating GM crop cultivation in four developing countries where the technology has large potential application. Why have some countries banned GM crop cultivation in their territory while others encouraged it? In countries where GM crops were allowed, why have varying systems of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection been constructed? To investigate these questions I comparatively examine the policy experience (1995-2015) of Argentina, Brazil, Turkey relying on original fieldwork and India based on secondary literature. The explanation combines structural considerations with a social constructivist understanding of how actors make use of ideas to interpret and articulate their interests in a context defined by novelty and uncertainty.

Transnational biotechnology companies lobby developing country governments for permission of GM crop cultivation and strict IPR protection so as to be able to charge the cultivators technology fees. While public opinion tends to be opposed to these crops, associations of big farmers tend to favor their adoption and view the IPR claims by biotechnology companies as relatively tolerable. Smaller farmers and domestic seed industry, on the other hand, seek guarantees from the state that technology adoption conditions will not be established to their disadvantage. Which agenda is prioritized in policy-making will depend not only on the political weight of each pressure group but also on the statesmen’s management of the available knowledge on such questions as how the GM plants work, who they are good for, why they may or may not be needed. I demonstrate that GM-skeptic coalitions can have a good chance at policy influence where the pro-GM producer sector is highly fragmented, but where the producer sector is strong the same opposition can be functional in obtaining a domestic producer- oriented policy by challenging the legitimacy of extensive IPR claims advanced by transnational biotechnology firms.