Among overarching conclusions, the researchers found trust more difficult to establish around developing new crops for human consumption -- insect-resistance maize, for example -- than with projects focused on non-food crops, such as an improved cotton plant.
According to the study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the difficulties of building trust in agbiotech PPPs come in various forms.
"Not only do the public and private sectors hold mutually negative perceptions of each other, but public and private partners involved in agbiotech initiatives must deal with a public that is wary of the perceived risks of genetically modified (GM) crops and suspicious about private sector involvement in their country," the researcher said.
Honesty, integrity the foremost foundations of trust
The study found integrity to be the element cited most often as the crucial determinant of overall levels of trust in an agbiotech partnership.
An executive of a major private seed company in South Africa's biotech maize industry, for example, said being honest with farmers about agbiotech crops and what they can deliver is essential.
"If you over-promise it will come across as if you are trying to fool the people and it will come back to you," he said.
Other interviewees said trust requires confidence in the good intentions of their partners.
"I would want to have trust that whatever we are doing is safe, that you are not coming to do things that are not right in the country," said one Kenyan participant in the Insect Resistant Maize for Africa project.
Open communication and full disclosure
For many interviewees, the need for transparency is crucial to a trusting relationship.
"If you get bad results, you will still report them," said an executive with the Programme for Biosafety Systems. "Communicate freely," he emphasized.
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Sandra Rotman Centre for Global Health