Globalisation and the international governance of modern biotechnology: the implications for food security in Kenya

Globalisation and the international governance of modern biotechnology: the implications for food security in Kenya

Can biotechnology benefit food security in Kenya?

This paper argues that for modern biotechnology research to have long term and wider positive social impact in Kenya, changes in policies and institutions must be implemented to ensure that it benefits the smallholder farmers who make up the majority of Kenya’s population.

Critical issues examined include:

  • biosafety
  • food safety
  • loss of biodiversity
  • IPRs

The report makes five key points

  • Alleviating rural poverty and food insecurity in Kenya requires changes at the local, national and international levels because of the inter-connectedness of agricultural systems and development in eneral.
  • Developments in agricultural biotechnology will require slow and careful policy formulation, planning and implementation in order to improve food security of smallholders and reduce possible negative and socioeconomic impacts such as loss of biodiversity, food safety and further marginalisation of smallholders.
  • The Kenyan public sector will continue to play an important role in the biotechnology development because this area of research is crucial to the national interests and the survival of rural communities.
  • The development and transfer of agricultural biotechnology as advocated by international agencies and their national collaborators in the developing countries are risky undertakings particularly, when they proceed faster than the capacity of the state and its institutions to cope with the emergent technologies. Ensuring that effective policy and institutional mechanisms not only exist but also are enforced in Kenya is especially critical to the capacity of the public research sector to respond to national and local food security needs. This has to move in tandem with capacity to manage risk, which is critical to engagement in safe handling, use and trans-boundary movement of LMOs.
  • While recognising that agricultural biotechnology has potential to alleviate food insecurity in rural Kenya, its programmes must be strongly linked to the interests of smallholder farmers and institutions that support local participation. This paper has argued that if these five issues are addressed, modern biotechnology can potentially contribute to food security and rural development in Kenya.

[adapted from authors summary]

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