Seeds, Science, and Struggle

From Food, Health, and the Environment

Seeds, Science, and Struggle

The Global Politics of Transgenic Crops

By Abby Kinchy

An examination of how advocates for alternative agriculture confront “science-based” regulation of genetically engineered crops.





An examination of how advocates for alternative agriculture confront “science-based” regulation of genetically engineered crops.

Genetic engineering has a wide range of cultural, economic, and ethical implications, yet it has become almost an article of faith that regulatory decisions about biotechnology be based only on evidence of specific quantifiable risks; to consider anything else is said to “politicize” regulation. In this study of social protest against genetically engineered food, Abby Kinchy turns the conventional argument on its head. Rather than consider politicization of the regulatory system, she takes a close look at the scientization of public debate about the “contamination” of crops resulting from pollen drift and seed mixing. Advocates of alternative agriculture confront the scientization of this debate by calling on international experts, carrying out their own research, questioning regulatory science in court, building alternative markets, and demanding that their governments consider the social and economic impacts of the new technologies.

Kinchy focuses on social conflicts over canola in Canada and maize in Mexico, drawing out their linkages to the global food system and international environmental governance. The book ultimately demonstrates the shortcomings of dominant models of scientific risk governance, which marginalize alternative visions of rural livelihoods and sustainable food production.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262017817 240 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$20.00 X ISBN: 9780262517744 240 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • Seeds, Science, and Struggle is one of the most comprehensive and best-communicated stories about transgenes for an interdisciplinary audience I have encountered.

    Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences


  • Abby Kinchy brings to life the struggle taking place around the world against transgenic crops and the companies that market them. In a richly contextualized study she describes the strategies and motives of activists in Mexico and Canada and provides valuable insights into the issues involved. Seeds, Science, and Struggle successfully integrates social movement studies and the politics of science and technology.

    Andrew Jamison

    Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University

  • In this lively and well-written book, Abby Kinchy takes us into the heart of the intense political struggles generated by the introduction of transgenic organisms in Mexico and Canada. By focusing on government and industry efforts to confine public debate to the singular realm of science-based risk, Kinchy reveals the unstable nature of global politics around agricultural biotechnology and shows how the failure to address the far broader social, cultural, economic, and environmental implications these technologies raise has come back to bite these would-be narrowers with a vengeance.

    Rachel Schurman

    University of Minnesota; author of Fighting for the Future of Food

  • Abby Kinchy revisits the scene of several key episodes in the long-running debate over agricultural biotechnology and GMOs. Her interviews fill in many crucial details on the perspective, goals, and motivations of important actors in the Mexican maize and Canadian canola disputes over the contamination of farmers' fields, and her treatment of the issues is both insightful and even-handed. I really enjoyed reading this book.

    Paul B. Thompson

    W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics, Michigan State University