Glenn Davis Stone
Washington University, St. Louis

Westerners often see the social components of agriculture in developing countries as constraints on development. However, the same social components play vital roles in facilitating cultivation. Of particular relevance to the future of genetically modified (GM) crops is the importance of the social component of indigenous management skill. Developing world farmers rely on observations of each others’ fields and on information and interpretations passed among each other. Along with the benefits that genetic modification has the potential to offer, it is important to keep in mind ways in which the technology may also disrupt this social component of agriculture. Two possible forms of disruption are decreased recognizability and accelerated rate of technological change.

Key words: Agricultural development, biotechnology, indigenous technical knowledge.