Biotech Updates

Study Details Essential Role of Trust in Agricultural Biotech Partnerships

November 7, 2012

Trust is a prerequisite for the adoption of agricultural biotechnology, a new four-year study has revealed. The study was conducted by researchers from the Sandra Rotman Centre at the University Health Network and the University of Toronto by assessing what built or undermined trust in eight African case studies. The study also concluded that trust within the context of biotech projects has six key determinants: honesty, transparency, capability, accountability, solidarity and generosity.

The body of work examines in unprecedented depth the issue of trust in agricultural biotechnology, capturing important conclusions from 80 interviews with stakeholders in eight African agbiotech projects spanning seven countries -- Burkina Faso, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. None of the study team members was involved in the projects.

 "Our interviewees agreed that trust is a very important, if not the most important factor in the success or failure of an agbiotech public-private partnership," said lead researcher Obidimma Ezezika of the Sandra Rotman Centre. "Trust in these partnerships is especially hard to reach, however, because of the controversy around genetically modified crops, there exists a huge distrust of private sector seed companies in this space, and the complexity of the research and development," he added.

Among overarching conclusions, the researchers also 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.

 The study was published on November 1, 2012 in a special supplement of the UK-based journal Agriculture and Food Security. Article adapted in part from Access the study at For more information contact Terry Collins at