October 27, 2019 - Caroline
RPP #7: Qualitative Data Sources
For small-n research, I am particularly interested in studying the roles that language and information play in pesticide use along the commodity chain for Bayer-Monsanto concerning glyphosate.
My small-n research question is:
What explains the success or failure of regulating glyphosate in certain countries?
The dependent variable is the outcome in an attempt to regulate glyphosate. For now, I am defining “success” and “failure” pretty broadly. “Success” includes if the sale or use of glyphosate is suspended or outlawed (even if it is later relaxed) and “failure” is continuous, mostly unchecked use. In other words, “success” would be the introduction of and effective enaction of legislation on glyphosate bans or restrictions on a national level. To qualitatively operationalize the outcome of success or failure, I would analyze government documents (if available) and official government statements from local news sources explaining why or why not action was taken against glyphosate. There is no one concise collection of official statements from other countries available, so local news sources are extremely helpful. For example, Bermuda suspended any importation of glyphosate following studies on its carcinogenetic effects in 2015, and its Minister of Health Jeanne Atherden’s full statement outlines the ban along with the departments it covers. Another example is an EPA document explaining its decision to officially declare that there are no public health risks when glyphosate is used properly and that it is not a carcinogen. The language used in these statements (like if the chemical is recognized as a carcinogen or not) reflects the outcome of regulating glyphosate and whether or not a case would be viewed as a “success” or “failure.” Internal company documents made public in the Monsanto Papers are useful in researching and gaining a better understanding of how corporate information influences policymaking.
For cases, I am considering having four countries—possibly two where glyphosate is banned and two where it is not. I would then analyze how language used or information available affected whether or not it was deemed unsafe and banned. I would also like to incorporate the three core actors in the glyphosate commodity chain—the input suppliers (for my research purposes the MNC Bayer-Monsanto), primary producers (farmers), and consumers. Because difficulties “regulating complexity” stem from their not being located in one country alone, I think it would be more insightful to follow glyphosate along its commodity chain to see how it is perceived or used by these groups affects if it is banned or not. I am leaning towards having these actors represent how my independent variable(s) are indicated.
 “Bermuda Suspends Glyphosate-Ridden Roundup Indefinitely,” Natural Society, last modified May 13, 2015, accessed October 27, 2019, https://naturalsociety.com/bermuda-suspends-glyphosate-ridden-roundup-indefinitely/.
 “Glyphosate: Proposed Interim Registration Review Decision Case Number 0178,” EPA, April 2019, Accessed October 27, 2019, file:///C:/Users/cspow/Downloads/EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0361-2344.pdf
“The Monsanto Papers-Master Chart,” Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman PC, Accessed October 26, 2019, http://baumhedlundlaw.com/pdf/monsanto-documents/monsanto-documents-chart-101217.pdf