The corporate shaping of GM crops as a technology for the poor

D. Glover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Genetically modified (GM, transgenic) crops are often invoked in debates about poverty, hunger, and agricultural development. The framing of GM crops as a 'pro-poor' and environmentally sustainable technology was partly a creation of the biotechnology industry, but cannot be explained as merely a cynical exercise in public relations. Storylines about poverty alleviation and sustainable development actually helped to drive and shape the technical and commercial strategies of the leading transnational agribusiness company, Monsanto, during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. However, while those storylines emerged alongside the GM crop technologies that were being developed in the company's laboratories and greenhouses, they failed to influence their design or technological content. Nevertheless, the pro-poor and sustainability rhetoric contributed directly to a transformation of Monsanto's sectoral and geographical scope, to include a new focus on markets in developing countries. In principle, serving farmers in these markets could lead the company to develop new products and technologies that are designed to address the needs of resource-poor smallholders, but the evidence of such a change occurring is scant
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-90
JournalThe Journal of Peasant Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • sustainable agriculture
  • conservation tillage
  • strategic change
  • monsanto
  • politics
  • biotechnology
  • science
  • africa
  • sensemaking
  • revolution

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