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Investing in Food security? Philanthrocapitalism, biotechnology and development

15th November 2013 @ 1:00 pm - 2:45 pm

pic_06-263608_960x332Sally Brooks, University of York

This paper traces the evolution of philanthropic involvement in developing country agriculture from the ‘scientific philanthropy’ of the Rockefeller Foundation during and after the Green Revolution era to the ‘philathrocapitalism’ of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, by examining two cases of ‘pro-poor’ agricultural biotechnology research: pro-Vitamin A-enriched ‘Golden Rice’ and drought tolerant maize.

In each case, novel institutions developed for technology transfer have created conditions conducive to future capitalist accumulation in ways that are not immediately obvious. These initiatives can be understood as institutional experiments that are shifting debates about the governance and regulation of genetically modified (‘GM’) crops.

Meanwhile an emphasis on silver bullet solutions and institutions that ‘connect to the market’ diverts attention from more context-responsive approaches. This trend is likely to intensify with the announcement at the recent G8 summit backing a ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’ in which agri-business corporations are to play a key role.

More information about Sally’s work can be found at http://www.sallybrooksconsulting.com/publications/

Sally Brooks’ book in the STEPS Centre’s Pathways to Sustainability series: Rice Biofortification: Lessons for Global Science and Development

Sally Brooks is a social researcher with interests in international development, technological change in agriculture and food policy, based in York, UK. In recent years she has worked as a researcher and tutor at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and STEPS Centre at the University of Sussex and the Department of Social Policy at the University of York; and is currently research associate on a component of the BBSRC-funded ‘Sustainable Crop Production for International Development’ Project led by the School of International Development (DEV) at the University of East Anglia and John Innes Centre. Previously she worked with development NGOs in Southeast Asia for several years. She is author of ‘Rice Biofortification: Lessons for Global Science and Development’ (Earthscan: 2010).



Adrian Ely
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Jubilee Lecture Theatre 144
Jubilee Building, University of Sussex
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