Publication details

Twelve years with genetically modified maize on Czech fields : reality check



Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description With the development of new agri-biotech applications it is desirable to compare the state of premises and promises of the nowadays old technology to the often same hopes attributed to the new generation of agricultural biotechnologies. Genetically modified (GM) maize was grown for commercial purposes in the Czech Republic continuously since 2005 with the greatest cultivation area of over 8000 Ha in 2008, steadily declining since then until zero in 2017. Comprehensive research into socio-economical and environmental impacts of its cultivation and processing is needed. This research addresses the issue from Czech GM maize farmers’ perspective. I investigate premises and promises bound to the insect resistant bt maize MON810 against the reality of its cultivation in the Czech Republic. In this paper I will present results of semi-structured interviews with most of the Czech farmers growing GM maize in 2015 and questionnaires answered by Czech farmers who grew GM maize between 2005 and 2016. I test how assumptions embedded in the risk assessment and benefits claimed by the GM maize seed producer correspond to the agricultural practice. The GMO Panel of the European Food Safety Authority supposes besides other things that farmers can compare GM and conventional production locally and historically; that farmers are able to notice potential unforeseen adverse effects and report them to the GM seed patent holder or state authorities; that farmers sow so-called refuges consisting of conventional maize; that farmers are educated in the GM production matters; that a co-existence of GM and conventional production is possible. Preliminary results based on semi-structured interviews and questionnaires indicate that not each assumption at the basis of MON810 authorisation in the EU holds true in the practice. For example, one of the tools of the mandatory general surveillance, farmer questionnaire developed and distributed by Monsanto cannot provide reliable information on potential adverse effects. Similarly, at least some of the benefits of the GM maize cultivation claimed by the patent holder are questionable, e.g. easy manipulation; reduction of insecticide use; time saving; lowering unit production costs. Further results relate to what benefits do see Czech growers of GM maize in its cultivation and what attitudes they have to GM crops in general. Qualitative analysis of interviews with Czech GM farmers shows that they accept GM crops based on their experience (satisfaction and conviction of no harm) and assumptions (bt sprays used in organic agriculture, long experience of no adverse effects worldwide). Farmers perceive that there is currently no alternative to GMOs and generally frame GMOs as a progress and means of sustainable development necessary for feeding the world that is beneficial for the environment. At the same time they express concerns about rising herbicide resistant weeds and about unknown long-term effects of GM crop cultivation.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info