This report reviews governance issues of modern biotechnology. The study used two case studies of transgenic sweet potato and Bt maize to examine how governance issues influence household and national food security in the country. The report argues that for biotechnology to engender food security in Kenya in the context of globalisation and international governance, the national context for biotechnology has to be facilitative. More specifically, there is need to synchronise biotechnology development with national development imperatives taking into account structural limitations that could negate gains made through biotechnology activities.
Five key findings emerge from this report. First, 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 general. Second, developments in agricultural biotechnology will require slow and careful policy planning and implementation in order to improve food security of smallholders and reduce possible negative and socio-economic impacts of technology. Third, 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 and local interests. Fourth, the transfer of agricultural biotechnology to developing countries as advocated by international agencies and their national collaborators is a risky undertaking, particularly when it proceeds faster than the capacity of the state to cope with the management of new knowledge. Fifth and finally, while recognising that agricultural biotechnology has potential to alleviate food insecurity in rural Kenya, its programmes must be strongly linked to the interests of smallholders and institutions that support local participation.
IDS Working Paper 199. Brighton, UK: IDS. ISBN 1 85864 514 X, 40 pp.