Law and Politics

Jairam Ramesh
“We need strong scientific evidence to support the introduction of Golden Rice technology and research. I am willing to wait and be patient until enough public support has been generated on GM food” (Jairam Ramesh, the Environmental Minister of India)

For governments to create and implement laws effectively and efficiently they need hard facts and figures to justify what they intend to do is legitimate and worthy of government time and resources. Science is responsible for the construction of these facts for policy makers to reach consensus about an appropriate reaction to a governmental problem. However, just presenting scientific information to policy makers is not enough to make an impact on policy making, it requires the acceptance from the social world as well. In the case of Golden Rice, its use to solve the vitamin A deficiency population has not been accepted by all the actors in the social world. Two worlds have emerged consisting of those for the mass production of Golden Rice in developing nations, and those against its production for a number of reasons. As these two worlds try to mobilize others by creating links among different social worlds in favor of their view it creates a controversial setting. This very controversial setting makes it hard for policy makers to make decisions on how to act. They require hard scientific evidence backed by creditable social world actors. This currently is not the case with Golden Rice.

India is one developing country where the government is torn between the pros and cons of introducing Golden Rice. The Indian government in under extreme pressure to feed its ever increasing population, so much so that Indian officials have come to suggest ‘eating rats to reduce the dependence on rice’. From this you would think that the timing of GMO crops could be successful as GM crops can play a huge role in guaranteeing food security. However, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, the Environmental Minister of India, currently is against the introduction of Golden Rice technology and research until strong scientific evidence supports itself. Until the social worlds reach an agreement and stop cutting scientist’s links to an effective us of Golden Rice, policy makers and governments cannot mobilize enough support to justify the introduction of this crop.