The political economy of agricultural biotechnology is addressed in this review through three puzzles. First, why were new crop technologies of the Green Revolution readily accepted, versus today's considerable blockage of genetically engineered crops? Second, why has genetic engineering in medicine and pharmaceuticals been normalized, whereas recombinant DNA technology in agriculture is highly restricted? Finally, why is there greater political acceptance of agricultural biotechnology in some countries versus others, for some crops versus others, and for some crop traits versus others? Explanation requires an extended theoretical framework of regulation that goes beyond a vector sum of weighted material interests. Consideration must also be given to the social construction of risk, political structure, and social psychology. A full political economy of agricultural biotechnology must consider not only costs and benefits to multiple actors in different societies within the classic interest-group and regulator model but also the transnational diffusion of ideologies, with attendant costs to poorer farmers and countries.


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