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Assessing Stakeholder Attitudes to Agricultural Biotechnology in Developing Countries

This article documents research carried out in the Philippines and Mexico between 1997 and 2001, on stakeholder attitudes towards agricultural biotechnology. The paper argues that a lack of such research contributed to the emergence in the North of inaccurate stereotypes concerning the way that agricultural biotechnology is perceived in the South.

The article describes the methodology used in the surveys and discusses some of the initial findings. Although many concerns were shared across the two countries, there were also striking contrasts. For example, opinions appeared to be more polarised in the Philippines than in Mexico. In both countries, however, academic institutions appeared to be key players and mediators in debates about biotechnology.

The article concludes that prevailing knowledge, perceptions and interests in the two countries often differed from those in developed countries. In addition, differences in attitudes and perceptions between the Philippines and Mexico were linked to political, cultural and institutional factors as well as historical experiences. The author concludes that any global system of governance for biotechnology needs to take into account the specific circumstances and characteristics of individual countries.

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