The biotechnology revolution has almost overwhelmingly been a private sector phenomenon. This alarms many who, aside from other concerns, fear the consolidation of the agri-food industry in the hands of a few multinationals.
Two scenarios for the developing world are often imagined: either genetically modified crops will intensify the industrialisation of agriculture in a way that is particularly harmful for poor farmers, with corporations getting the benefits while processes of marginalisation intensify. Or, they will be largely an irrelevance, with transgenic product portfolios way out of the price range of the world’s poorest farmers, beyond a few high-profile goodwill projects
China’s experience with biotechnology has been very different from other countries. Critically, the state has determined the objectives and led the process. Does this Chinese ‘developmental state’ model suggest that alternative more propoor biotechnology futures are possible?