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Citizens' Jury
Jurors' Role

The Citizens' Jury

The citizens' jury has the potential to be an action research tool that can make a powerful contribution to highlighting issues of social justice and the legitimization of non-specialist knowledge. Like a legal jury, the cornerstone of a citizens' jury is the belief that once a small sample of a population has heard the evidence, their subsequent deliberations can fairly represent the conscience and perspectives of the wider community. This age-old reasoning contrasts with today's most common quantitative and qualita- tive methods for representing the public's views, the opinion poll and focus group.

In most citizens' juries a panel of non-specialists meets for a total of 20-50 hours to examine carefully an issue of public significance. The jury, made up of 12-20 people, serves as a microcosm of the public. Under the citizens' jury model most commonly used in the UK and US, jurors are often recruited via a more or less randomized selection of people taken from the electoral roll.

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Citizens' Jury
Jurors' Role

Jurors' Role

The jurors considered all three visions, assessing the specialist witnesses’ contributions and the pros and cons of each policy future on the basis of their own knowledge, priorities and aspirations. The jurors were not asked to simply choose between vision 1, 2 or 3, but were encouraged to assess critically the viability and relevance of all the elements of each scenario for the future. They could choose one particular vision or combine elements of all three futures and derive their own unique vision(s). An important task of the jury was to devise an action proposal which could be implemented to achieve their chosen vision. The resulting action proposals were considered in both small groups and in plenary. Comprehensive details of the jury’s deliberations and resulting set of policy recommendations for the future of food and farming are described in the full Prajateerpu report.

The jury’s verdict and vision of the future
There was a significant diversity of perspectives and opinions among the jurors. However there was a widespread agreement on the statements in their verdict, which included the following:

“We oppose:

  • the proposed reduction of those making their livelihood from the land from 70 per cent to 40 per cent in Andhra Pradesh

  • land consolidation and displacement of rural people

  • contract farming

  • labour-displacing mechanisation

  • GM Crops—including Vitamin-A rice & BT-cotton

  • loss of control over medicinal plants including their export

“We desire:

  • food and farming for self reliance and community control over resources

  • To maintain healthy soils, diverse crops, trees and livestock, & to build on our indigenous knowledge, practical skills and local institutions.”

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