Previous work has concluded that farmers (in developing countries) have limited voice in influencing agricultural research. However, in electoral democracies, farmers are not without political influence. The tension between these understandings is examined here by investigating the salience of farmers in the political economy of GM crop approvals in India. The paper assembles a unique data set that consists of media reports about GM crops in English, Gujarati and Marathi for the period 2010 to 2013. The media reports are coded for their content and opinion. The idea is that if firms locate themselves to be close to consumer preferences, then observing the product type (media reports) can be informative about consumer preferences. We find that it is urban interests that primarily shape the GM debate even though it has no interest in the pragmatic concerns of farmers. The immediate economic interest of farmers is emphasized more in the rural press which, however, carries limited debate on GM crops. The evidence is consistent with the notion that while farmers may not be important in shaping policy, they have the clout to defeat it. In particular, they are likely
to oppose corporate control that affects their material interests.