Avinash Kumar and Sambit Mallick

The present study, from a sociology of science and technology perspective, captures the transformation in plant biotechnology that has emerged with the advent of new agricultural technology, and how it is conceived of and practiced by the community of plant breeders in selected scientific institutions under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (icar) and the State Agricultural University (sau) setups located in an agriculturally backward state like Bihar. Focusing on a galaxy of scientists engaged in plant science research in Bihar, the present study captures the responses from plant breeders on the questions surrounding genetically modified crops, intellectual property rights and other contentious issues related to new agricultural technology, especially plant biotechnology. An attempt is also made to explore the nature of scientific collaboration taking place in plant breeding and the motivations of such collaborative practices. The purpose of this study is to understand how plant breeding in Bihar is experientially constituted and politically negotiated along the contours and at the boundaries of national and international development operations, policies, extension agents, and the everyday lives, livelihoods, and aspirations of farmers.

Avinash Kumar and Sambit Mallick

Abstract

The present study examines the potential of Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) technology in the field of rice biotechnology research in India and how it is perceived and practiced by rice biotechnologists in selected scientific institutions under the aegis of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs). The primary data for the study has been collected through in-depth personal interviews with molecular biologists and plant breeders engaged in rice biotechnology research in various institutional settings. A majority of the scientists emphasize the relative merits of MAS vis-à-vis the currently contentious transgenic approach for rice improvement in India. The MAS has emerged as an integrative, non-evasive, non-controversial, non-proprietary, and benign technology with the wider social acceptance that promotes open-mode, inclusive, and user-centered innovations in rice biotechnology research.