Larsson, Tomas
Centre for History and Economics, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge
United Kingdom
Brief bio :
Tomas Larsson (Dr.) is a Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge. A specialist on Thailand, his research has explored ways in which (national) security concerns impact rural economic development. This theme is developed in a recent book, Land and loyalty: Security and the development of property rights in Thailand (2012). He is currently working on a project on the diffusion of “alternative” agricultural technologies and methods – such as transgenic crops (GMOs), organic farming, and System of Rice Intensification (SRI) – that are designed to raise farm productivity in Southeast Asia, with particular focus on the Philippines and Thailand.
Individual Project :

Agricultural biotechnology in general and “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs) in particular present great opportunities or threats, depending on whom you believe, to the future of farming and food security in Southeast Asia. In response to this uncertainty, countries in the region have adopted widely diverging policies. While the Philippines has emerged as a regional leader in this second Green Revolution, Thailand has so far rejected the new technologies that have become available. This research project seeks to answer the question why proponents of agricultural biotechnology succeeded in making the cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) crops politically acceptable in the Philippines and failed to do so in Thailand.The project also investigates ongoing challenges to the adopted government positions, including anti-GMO activist attacks on field trials of “Golden Rice” in the Philippines, and the surreptitious adoption of biotech crops, most notably of virus-resistant papaya,by farmers in Thailand. The project explores the political economy of agricultural biotechnology in Southeast Asia using qualitative case-study methods such as process tracing, and is based on analysis of primary and secondary print sources, as well as interviews with policy makers, scientists, activists, and farmers.

Credit: International Rice Research Institute; Original photo caption: Dr Antonio Alfonso harvesting Golden Rice