10: Brian Dowd-Uribe on Burkina Faso, GMO cotton, and making alliances across inequality

Brian Dowd-Uribe is a food systems researcher and assistant professor at University of San Francisco.  He met Devon in the Environmental Studies PhD program at UC Santa Cruz.  There, Brian’s research took place in Burkina Faso, where he looked closely at the introduction of genetically modified cotton and its impact on state and its cotton companies, and at the impacts of liberalization on farmer livelihoods.  At the same time, with a group of other PhD students at UC Santa Cruz, Brian co-founded the New Roots Institute for the Study of Food Systems.  He worked as a post-doc at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, looking at community gardens in East Harlem, and then for three years at the University of Peace, a United Nations-affiliated university in Costa Rica.  He and his family recently returned to Northern California, where he grew up, for a tenure-track position at University of San Francisco.  In this episode, Devon and Brian talk about Burkina Faso’s unique high-quality cotton industry, prospects of genetically modified crops in bringing economic development to the poor, and the need to (and joy of) creating alliances and relationships across unequal differences in power.  

3: Maywa Montenegro on GMOs, agrobiodiversity, and the politics of who speaks for science

Maywa Montenegro de Wit is a seed scholar and science writer who I know through many mutual friends and through the agroecology movement.  I love to keep up with her written work, in part because it is so well crafted, but also because she continually brings fresh analysis and perspective to conversations that can feel tired-- like conversations about the role of urban agriculture, the importance of biodiversity conservation, and the use of genetically modified organisms. She is a PhD Candidate at UC Berkeley, where her research focuses on the social relations around seeds and seed systems.  She also has a degree in molecular biology, and a masters in science writing from MIT. She publishes work in academic journals and also widely in the popular press.  She was an editor at Seed Magazine, and her work is published recently by Ensia, Gastronomica, The Huffington Post and, among many other publications.

Maywa talks with Devon about the conservation of crop wild relatives, GMOs, the food movement, and the privileged positioning of scientific knowledge and the need to recognise many kinds of knowledges about food.