This paper is produced as part of the IDS project on 'Biotechnology and the policy process: challenges for less developed countries'. This project seeks to untangle the policy process in three very different developing countries: China, India and Zimbabwe. A central focus of the project is to understand how poor people’s perspectives can effectively influence the policy process in order that future developments in agricultural biotechnology meet their livelihood needs in a sustainable manner. This paper examines the policy context for biotechnology in Zimbabwe. Its objective is to sets the basis for further research and is essentially a 'map' of what exists as opposed to a deep theoretical exploration. It explains the main features of policy processes that influence and inform the development of policy on biotechnology. It considers in broad terms how it has evolved and in particular the events, processes and institutions that have influenced the form it has taken.
The paper focuses on three areas. Firstly, it looks at the national policy framework, identifying key development and economic policies and in particular considering the implications of policy on food security and development. The policy frameworks for environmental management, particularly in the areas of risk assessment and access to genetic resources, are considered. This section concludes that the general policy framework is supportive of the development and use of biotechnology. The legal framework in which policy initiatives take place and the legal process for evolution of law and policy is considered. Secondly, the paper identifies the predominant perspectives on biotechnology. These include the issue of food security, bio-safety, access to genetic resources and Zimbabwe’s economic strategies and its dependence on export markets. Broadly these debates reflect positions and approaches that have emerged around the world. Additionally, perspectives on institutions, accountability and representation are considered as this has influenced the current institutional systems for regulation. Thirdly, as an integral part of this discussion of perspectives this paper identifies the positions that key actors have taken and the actor-networks that have emerged. It considers how these have influenced the policy process particularly in the areas of access to genetic resources and intellectual property rights, defining research priorities and biosafety.
Background Paper, Biotechnology and the Policy Process in Developing Countries project. 103 pp.