Science, Technology, and Society Speaker Series
Bureaucratic Epistemes and Regulatory Disputes: Genetically Modified (GM) Crops between Science and Legal-Administration
Monday, March 26, 2018
1014 Tisch Hall
free & open to the public
Aniket Aga, PhD | University of Michigan | School for Environment and Sustainability
A fierce controversy surrounding the question of allowing commercial release of GM food crops, has been raging in India for nearly a decade. While the controversy concerns far-reaching issues of food security, food sovereignty, consumers’ choice, farmers’ livelihoods and ecological impacts, these are articulated in government policymaking via bureaucratic routines and documents. In this talk, I examine the regulatory regime overseeing GM crops in India, instituted in the late 1980s, to argue that two epistemes – scientific and legal-administrative – are fused in its design. By unraveling the course of two regulatory disputes, I suggest that an inherent ambiguity is lodged between scientific and legal-administrative modes of documentation, as facts generated in one register can be challenged by those registered in the other. I demonstrate that this ambiguity both fosters and constrains democratic participation and scrutiny over government policymaking, with deeply ambivalent implications.
Presented with Support from the College of LSA and the Department of History