• India;
  • transgenic crops;
  • discourse analysis;
  • governmentality;
  • representation;
  • situated knowledge

Transgenic cotton is promoted in India on the basis that it will improve rural livelihoods, but such claims are contested on the basis that they are ‘unscientific’. In this study, discourse analysis is utilized to deconstruct the environmental and scientific narratives employed by two key actors (Monsanto-Mahyco and the Deccan Development Society) in the debate in India. Whilst strong differences in the ideology of the two actors are found to account for their approaches to managing the environment, significant similarities in their approach to science and their recourse to Foucauldian governmentality are also evident. The conclusion considers how the use of discourse analysis could empower the rural poor to take part in the debate in India.