Mali's Farmers' Jury: an attempt to democratise policy-making on biotechnology (PLA 58)
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Towards the end of January 2006, 45 Malian farmers gathered in Sikasso to deliberate the role of genetically modified (GM) crops in the future of the country’s agriculture. This farmers' jury was known as l’ECID (Espace Citoyen d’Interpellation Démocratique – Citizen’s Space for Democratic Deliberation). It set out to give farmers, who have been previously marginalised from policy-making processes, the opportunity to share knowledge and make a series of recommendations and influence future policy-making. This was an experiment in deliberative democracy, and a brave attempt to challenge the hegemony of pro-GM discourses. L’ECID represented an attempt to amplify alternative viewpoints, the voices of those arely asked for opinions, and the perspectives of the people most profoundly affected by agricultural biotechnology. This article is the result of a visit to Mali carried out some five months after l’ECID took place, and focuses on examining the jury's impact on local decision makers.
Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org
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Available at https://www.iied.org/g02530