Accepted paper:

Biotechnological innovation and politics in Burkina Faso

Authors:

Caspar Roelofs (University of Groningen)
Sjaak Swart (Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen)
Idrissa Rachid Edouard Sanou (Gent University)
Menno Gerkema (University of Groningen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper addresses the relations between biotechnological innovation and politics in Burkina Faso from a Multi-level perspective. It discusses two diverging discourses around the roles and drivers of stakeholders in the adoption of genetically modified cotton.

Paper long abstract:

This paper addresses the relations between biotechnological innovation and politics in Burkina Faso from a Multi-level perspective. The adoption of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton - a cotton variety that has been genetically modified to be insect resistant- between 2003 and 2008 and the current debate on its discontinuation in Burkina Faso provide an excellent case to study these relations. Methods used include in-depth interviews, surveys, and focus groups with stakeholders. In this paper, two diverging discourses around the adoption of Bt cotton and the roles and drivers of stakeholders are described. It is argued that they can be understood from Geels' and Schots multi-level perspective (MLP). Its niche metaphor can be used to describe how political and industry actors in Burkina Faso managed to create a protected space in which Bt cotton could be further developed and matured to better fit the local context. The replacement of the old fashioned way of agriculture with a new biotech-based way of farming and the emergence of new regulatory frameworks and institutions could be described in terms of the emergence of a new socio-technological regime. The landscape metaphor can be used to describe a slowly changing environmental and socio-political context. The paper aims to contribute to STS literature by applying the MLP to innovation in a developing context. By using the MLP to understand diverging discourses in this context, elements of the MLP that may need further adaptation to better fit a developing context may become more explicit.

panel T071
Innovation: Discourses, politics, societies, and blind spots