GM report: Some nice recommendations, shame about the spin

The UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology has today released its long-awaited report on ‘Advanced genetic techniques for crop improvement: regulation, risk and precaution’. The ESRC STEPS Centre welcomes the moves made by the Committee – as reflected in the report title – to somewhat broaden out the original narrow terms of the…

Livelihood pathways after land reform in Zimbabwe

Understanding livelihood pathways requires sustained fieldwork in particular sites in order to understand what changes and why. Systematic longitudinal studies are sadly rare in many developing country settings. Project grants for a few years are insufficient to sustain the research effort required. Long term studies are especially important when major changes have occurred. We cannot…

Sustainable intensification: a new buzzword to feed the world?

The term ‘sustainable intensification’ (SI) has entered academic and policy discourse in recent years, including in debates about what to do about agriculture in Zimbabwe. I have been intrigued for some while to find out what it actually means. Is this yet another contradictory hyphenation of two words for political ends, or does it have…

GM Crops: Continuing controversy

By Ian Scoones, STEPS Centre Director In 2002, the international press was full of headlines such as ‘Starving Zimbabwe Shuns GM Maize’. This was repeated again in 2010. The context was the refusal to import whole-grain GM maize from South Africa, as regulatory approval had not been granted, and there were fears that the food…

Missing politics and food sovereignty

Over the last two decades La Via Campesina has grown as a movement campaigning for a change in the global agri-food system. Some claim that it is the world’s largest social movement. Its main rallying cry has been a demand for ‘food sovereignty’, a term, as Marc Edelman notes, that has a longer genealogy but…

Food Sovereignty: a Critical Dialogue

On 24 January 2014, the event ‘Food Sovereignty: A Critical Dialogue’ will bring together sceptics and advocates of food sovereignty to discuss the future of this controversial idea in critical agrarian studies. Ian Scoones will be chairing the opening keynote session of this event, held at the International Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands….

Debating Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: new book by Ian Scoones

Zimbabwe’s land reform has been intensely controversial. Yet debate has been plagued by bias and misinformation. A new book by Ian Scoones, Debating Zimbabwe’s Land Reform, aims to offer a more considered discussion, rooted in field-based, empirical research carried out over 13 years since the 2000 land reform. The 60 chapters of this book originally…

When global climate change politics meets African agriculture

by Joanes Atela, Political Ecologies of Carbon in Africa project As nations debate climate change this week at the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19), addressing the urgent questions linking agriculture and climate change is not only politically, but morally the right thing to do. Agriculture tops the list of climate-affected sectors, with complex implications…

A new way of bringing ‘farms’ and ‘systems’ together

by Jim Sumberg, Stephen Whitfield and Ken Giller How do we understand farms as systems, and farms as part of systems? The terms and definitions that researchers use affect how we see farming and agriculture in relation to ecology, society and politics. So is it time for a rethink? The words ‘farm’ (or ‘farming’) and…

Good & evil: two articles on closing down the debate on GM crops

Is it right to call opponents of GM crops ‘wicked’? In a recent interview, Owen Paterson denounced in starkly moralistic language people whom he sees as holding up progress on Golden Rice and other genetically modified foods. In a piece for the Guardian’s Political Science blog, Andy Stirling argues in defence of scepticism and democracy…