chapter  7
18 Pages

Biosciences, ‘Development’ and the Abstraction of Governance

ByJames Smith

In a recent book, Robert Paarlberg, argues that developing countries are not being allowed to make their ‘own’ decision regarding their use of genetically modified crops (Paarlberg 2008). He describes how pressure groups and lobbyists – mainly from Europe – are turning the heads of African leaders and influencing them not to accept the potential of biotechnology. Aside from the obvious issue that Paarlberg is doing the same thing from a different perspective, implicit in his argument is the notion African leaders when confronted with evidence are unable to make the most appropriate decisions for themselves. At first glance this may seem slightly disparaging or even neocolonial but if one explores the context in which most African, and other developing country, governments must make decisions, prioritize and implement policy it is apparent that a series of structural processes have stripped away options and decision-making ability. New and emerging technologies such as biotechnology, and the calculus of risk and benefit embedded in them, further underlines pressures on ‘governance’.