Investing in Food Security? Philanthrocapitalism, biotechnology and development.

Research output: Working paper



Publication details

DatePublished - 1 Nov 2013
PublisherScience Policy Research Unit
Place of PublicationBrighton
Number of pages16
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameSPRU Working Paper Series
PublisherScience Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex
No.SWPS 2013-12


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.

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