chapter  8
20 Pages

Ever-changing Policy Context: the One Stable Threat to Biotech Governance in Africa?

Policy and institutional processes for managing modern biotechnology in Africa, as elsewhere in the world clearly bring out how biotechnology regulation in many respects represents the ‘avant garde’ case of technology governance (cf. Nolke and Graz 2007). Biotechnology is characterized by highly dynamic technological developments and is inherently border-spanning in character, making it one of the most striking icons of globalization (Juma and Serageldin 2007). This has led to some policy practitioners declaring that the policy responses in Africa are therefore not surprising. The fact that they are in a perpetual state of change, with new organizational and individual players coming into the fray at every twist and turn of the dynamics within the technology are seen as necessary as the organizations and individuals jostle to position themselves strategically to deal adequately with the challenges posed by the technology. The result has been that many organizations, programmes and approaches have been put in place by both state and non-state actors on the continent to try to cope with the challenge of maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks of modern biotechnology (Mugabe 2001). Inspired by the cross-national food security and technology challenge and policy responses ignited by the 2002-2003 food crisis in southern Africa (detailed in Smith Chapter 7), this chapter presents and discusses some of the processes and institutional responses that were spawned at cross-national levels, bringing to the fore some of the challenges and limitations faced by both state and non-state actors in bringing about and implementing technology governance mechanisms.