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socio-legal studies about Socio-Economics

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A Thesis Proposal for the Partial fulfillment of
Under the guidance of
University of ______________
January 2018
Whether statutory liability should precede civil liability for regulating the farming of Genetically Modified Crops? A Socioeconomic Perspective of the U.K.: Research Proposal
Section 1: Introduction
Different nations have recognized the benefits of farming Genetically Modified Crops (GMCs). However, these nations have also recognized the inability of traditional civil liability systems to provide an appropriate legal framework to such operations. Different studies highlighted that the safety issues that are related to GM farming are either cryptic or inconclusive. Such issues impose significant challenges on legal stakeholders and policymakers in dealing with the safety violations that are related to farming of GMCs. This is because there is inconclusive evidence regarding the harmful effects of GMCs. On the contrary, the U.S. has endorsed that GM crops are as safe as their natural variants. Although the United Kingdom has not exhibited such aggressive support to GM farming like their American counterparts; however, the nation has recognized the market potential of GM crops.

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The agricultural industry and the food and beverage industry accounted for 7% of the United Kingdom’s total economy. The nation has taken a mission to make these sectors more productive and competitive by increasing the export of unique, innovative, and safe food and food products. The legal domain of the U.K. also endorses that manufacturers, retailers, and consumers should integrate with each other in reducing wastes and optimizing resources for expediting such mission.
On the other hand, it is also speculated that different socioeconomic perspectives both at the micro and at macro levels might influence the violation of safety guidelines that regulate GM farming. Hence, different nations have implemented statutory frameworks or instruments for regulating GM farming. For example, a report suggested that nations should recognize the uniqueness of GM; however, they should also acknowledge the loopholes of common legal frameworks to deal with such technology. Hence, the report suggested that nations should implement appropriate statutory frameworks for regulating GM farming. However, several authors have highlighted that stringent legal and regulatory frameworks often reduce the yield of an industry. Hence, there is a dilemma across policy makers and different legal instruments on the structure of regulating the farming of GM crops. The present research proposal aims to explore and address the dilemma whether statutory liability should precede civil liability for regulating the farming of Genetically Modified Crops in context to the socioeconomic perspective of the U.K. The proposed study will help to build up seminal evidence on the possible legal instruments that can be implemented to regulate GM farming and at the same time ensuring the socio-economic growth of the UK.
Section 2: Review of Literature
The Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy suggested that the Canadian Government should frame liability instruments to redress private and public damage that stems or could stem from the farming of GM crops. Moreover, the report suggested that such instruments must ensure the biodiversity and prevent harm to the environment due to the implementation of GM technologies. Finally, the report concluded that liability instruments must be equally applied to the industrial stakeholders so that harms can be internalized before they are produced. A strong civil liability system governs producers and users of GM technologies across the EU, the United States, and Canada. The civil liability system in these nations is based on three parameters-negligence, nuisance, and the concept of Rylands versus Fletcher. This finding suggests that the civil liability system does not address the root-cause for such violations. Hence, the provisions for statutory liability that could govern the production of GM crops has received wide recognition. However, such liabilities are also restricted either to the technological aspect of GMC or to the parliamentary jurisprudence. In this regard, the position of the New Zealand Government is notable. The local Government of New Zealand stated that they endorse stringent controls on GM farming. However, the Government of New Zealand does not wish to control issues on GMC that are related to laboratory research or medical applications. Such demarcation reflects the position that policymakers should take before implementing statutory liabilities on GM. This finding indicated that statutory liabilities in relation to GM farming could be tailored to different stakeholders. Moreover, the Government of New Zealand has provided adequate power to the territorial authorities to regulate land use effects that stem from use and misuse of GM farming. Such observation once again endorses the role of macro-level stakeholders in enforcing statutory liabilities in a need-based manner1.
Section 3: Research Methodology
Study Design and Sampling
The proposed research would implement a mixed-methodology approach to address the main and sub-research questions. This is because the proposed research would incorporate different qualitative and quantitative parameters for analyzing the end-points that would be considered for the study. The qualitative and quantitative parameters would be constructed based on a methodology triangulation. The methodology triangulation would involve the appraisal of primary and secondary data and integration of the same to report the final findings of this seminal research. Different stakeholders at the meso, macro, and micro levels would be invited to participate in the study. The subjective and objective responses of the study participants would form the primary data for the proposed research. On the other hand, the industry reports, federal documents, legal regulations, white papers, and economics/econometric data from different websites would contribute to the genesis of secondary data for this research. Moreover, the literature review for this seminal research would also contribute as a source of secondary data for the proposed research. Purposive sampling would be implemented to select the study participants for the proposed research. Individuals, those who are associated with GM farming would be only included in the proposed study. The study participants would include meso level stakeholders (federal officials, policymakers, and legal instruments), macro-level stakeholders (exporters of GM crops, industries that purchase GM crops for catering to the UK market, and economic experts), and micro level stakeholders (farmers, bank managers who are entrusted for sanctioning loan to farmers of GM crops, marketers of GM crops, and field officials who are entrusted to supervise and ensure the safe production of GM crops).
Collection of Secondary Data
The seminal research would initiate with the collection and appraisal of secondary data. The secondary data such as legal frameworks, policies on GM farming, the global market for GMCs, economic perspectives of GM farming, growth opportunities, and yield characteristics of GMCs across the UK, EU, and the US would be identified from literature review, industry reports, and federal transcripts. The secondary data would help to identify the socioeconomic issues that are associated with the violation of legal frameworks that regulate GM farming. However, the secondary data might unfold Praxis gaps which would be addressed through the primary data. The literature review for collecting the secondary data would be based on a keyword search strategy. Different keywords would be combined with Boolean connectors to undertake a scoping search on the seminal literature that is available before the initiation of the study. The keywords and Boolean connectors that would be used include GMO OR GMC AND farming OR farmers AND regulatory OR legal litigations AND socioeconomic parameters OR profitability AND United Kingdom OR European Union OR United States. The Mesh terms would be used to access the relevant articles from different industry and federal websites. The literature would be sorted according to different themes. Such themes would not only help to collate the secondary data but would provide the framework for designing different end-points for the proposed research.
Collection of Primary Data
Semi-structured questionnaires would be implemented to collect the subjective and objective responses of the study participants. All stakeholders who would be included in this study would belong to the United Kingdom irrespective of their migrant status.
The micro level stakeholders (farmers) would be randomly allocated to two experimental groups (n=200). The two groups would be exposed to statutory liability and awareness on safety issues of Gm farming respectively. The meso-level and macro-level stakeholders would be interviewed regarding policy changes, and their responses would be noted before extending the interventions to the experimental groups.
Measures and End-points
The subjective responses of the study participants would be analyzed by the MAXQDA software. The MAXQDA software would help to analyze the qualitative findings from such subjective responses. The subjective responses of the study participants would be codified, and the codes would be validated from the Cronbach’s alphas that would be generated by such software. The codes having a Cronbach’s alpha less than 0.6 would be eliminated from the analysis. After validation of the codes, a Spearman’s correlation analysis would be undertaken through the same software. The correlation analysis would reflect the relation between the different codes that were based on the subjective responses of the study participants. The interview transcripts would be backed by seminal literature that will be obtained through literature review. The evidence-based literature would be similarly coded based on different themes and the end-points addressed in such themes. A 2*2 ANOVA would be implemented to find the interaction of different subjective parameters on the specific end-points of the study. The end-points that would be initially considered for the proposed research would include socioeconomic data (such as unemployment rate, household income, interest rates of federal and non-federal financial instruments, financial implications such as loan repayment, inflation, and educational level of farmers, GDP, and the contribution of GM farming to GDP), socio-legal data (the civic liability of stakeholders, malpractice trends in GM farming, background offenders and nature of offence, and legal sanctions related to such offence).
Data Analysis and Statistical Inference
The data analysis for the proposed research would be based on different statistical tests of inference. The data analysis would include estimation of correlation coefficients, regression analysis, and multiple comparison tests. The regression analysis would be based on the findings of the correlation analysis. The end-points that would exhibit significant correlations with each other would be incorporated in the logistic regression model. The logistic regression models would include different dependent and independent variables. The dependent variables would include measures of civil liability or statutory liability. On the other hand, the independent variables would include socioeconomic end-points either at the micro or at the macro levels. The data analysis would be primarily based on quantitative parameters. However, such parameters would be appropriately validated through qualitative analysis. All statistical findings would be evaluated at the 0.05 level of significance. The statistical analysis of the quantitative parameters would be undertaken through the Minitab (version 18) software.
Research Questions and Hypothesis Testing
The present research would explore one main and two sub-research questions. The sub-research questions would help to address the main research question in a comprehensive manner. The research questions for the proposed study would be explored based on the acceptance or the rejection of the null hypothesis (Ho) and the alternative hypothesis (Ha) respectively. The research questions and the respective hypotheses are presented in table 1.
Main Research Question Hypothesis
Whether statutory liability should precede civil liability for regulating the farming of Genetically Modified Crops in context to the socioeconomic perspective of the U.K.? Statutory liability should precede civil liability for regulating the farming of Genetically Modified Crops in context to the socioeconomic perspective of the U.K.
Sub- Research Questions Hypothesis
Whether socioeconomic litigations influence civil liability of concerned stakeholders associated with the farming of GM crops? Socioeconomic litigations influence civil liability of concerned stakeholders associated with the farming of GM crops.
Whether statutory liability interacts with socioeconomic litigations in influencing civil liability across concerned stakeholders? Statutory liability do not interact with socioeconomic litigations in influencing civil liability across concerned stakeholders
Whether socioeconomic perspective at macro-level interacts with policy making for designing statutory frameworks that regulate GM farming? Socioeconomic perspective at macro-level does not interact with policy making for designing statutory frameworks that regulate GM farming.
Table 1: Research questions and respective hypotheses
iii. Ethical Considerations
The study participants should be included in the proposed research after obtaining informed consent from them. Permissions would be obtained from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, and the Ministry of Agriculture, United Kingdom before proceeding with the proposed research. Any socioeconomic impact on the respective stakeholders (farmers) would be appropriately compensated from the federal support. However, the proposed research would not impose any harm neither on the stakeholders nor the public.
Section 4: Research Timeline
The projected timeline with the respective milestones for the proposed research is presented in table 2.
Time period Milestones to be achieved Prospective dates
2 months Scoping search to retrieve secondary data and completion of literature review 3 months Meeting the stakeholders for the first time and collecting the subjective and objective responses 4 months Retrieval and access to public, legal, and federal documents associated with the proposed research 4 months Advocating for change of policy in a pilot population of farmers with the help of policymakers Stakeholder interviews to be conducted at the meso level to understand the subjective responses to policy change 1 month Implementation of statutory liability or awareness on safety issues on GM farming across 200 farmers. 8 months Monitoring the effects of policy change on farming practice and violation/compliance with legal litigations (statutory liability) Dissertation writing (Initial draft) 2 month Interviews with the same stakeholders post-intervention both at micro and meso levels 5 months Data analysis and preparation of the final dissertation Total time for the thesis =29 months Table 2: projected timeline with the respective milestones for the proposed research
Mark Wilde. “Civil Liability for Environmental Damage: A Comparative Analysis of Law and
Policy in Europe and the United States”, The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2002,


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