Impacts of Trade and Investment-Driven Biotechnological Innovation on Food Security in Africa

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    Obijiofor Aginam

    This project assesses the impact(s) of global economic, trade and investment-driven biotechnological innovations on food safety-security in Africa. In recent times, the widespread practice of “land-grabbing” for bio-fuel investment, and corporate lobby for the marketing of genetically modified seed/food have raised complex food policy questions for African countries. This project brings together scholars, policy makers and civil society activists to explore how select African countries could put in place effective policies that address the inter-linkages of trade liberalization/forein direct investment, trends in biotechnological innovations in the food sector, and the protection/promotion of public health. Issues of food safety/security are increasingly driven by transnational regulatory regimes because of the volumes of food products that are traded between countries. While globalization brings opportunities for economic growth, international trade and investment – the engines of economic globalization – also open opportunities for the globalization of unsafe food. Huge corporate investments for bio-fuels threaten food security and livelihoods of local subsistence farmers. In order to guarantee social responsibility, the implementation and enforcement of food safety standards and food security policies should involve multiple actors: states, international organizations, the food industry, consumer groups and civil society. This would create an opportunity to balance trade liberalization and food safety-security concerns, enabling consumers to make informed choices. This project seeks to bring together these actors in a workshop to explore these issues in the context of Africa’s developmental challenges. Expected outputs include two Policy Briefs, and an edited policy-oriented book that would address the gaps in the food safety-security polices of the selected African countries.