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Study details essential role of trust in agricultural biotech partnerships

tanding the regulatory processes within the public domain that their applications underwent.

The need for competence

A very important element of trust identified by many interviewees is confidence in the partners' capacity to perform their assigned roles effectively.

"Someone may be sincere but he may not be reliable because he does not have the capacity," said a partner of the Network for the Genetic Improvement of Cowpea for Africa.

An interviewee involved in the biotech potato project in South Africa said that trust depends on "knowing that that person has the necessary knowledge and expertise to perform [assigned tasks] correctly" while an executive of Monsanto in Africa stated: "When institutions come together, it is about 'do I trust your ability to function, to be capable, and to help meet the common goals that are bringing us together.'"

This does not exclude promoting good agronomic practices, which involves distancing GM and non-GM crops physically and temporally and planting refuge areas in order to prevent insect resistance to transgenic crops, the researchers noted. "However, these practices are not always implemented and monitored correctly, as learned from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) maize project in South Africa."

A shared vision and mutual interests

The idea of a shared vision and goals was also frequently cited by study participants as an important element in the trust matrix. Said one member of KARI: trust blossoms when partners share a vision and work together to achieve it.

Detailed agreements and clearly-defined roles and responsibilities helpfully dispelled perceptions of inequality among partners in certain situations, the researcher noted.

Meanwhile, engaging the public and the project partners through 'farm walks' was found to be an effective trust-building practice. Farm walks consist of hosting media representatives, farmers, politicians and ot

Contact: Terry Collins
Sandra Rotman Centre for Global Health

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