Can agricultural biotechnology be pro-poor?

Published on 1 January 2003

A recent well-publicised book, by the director- general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and World Food Prize winner, Per Pinstrup-Andersen, opens with a story. The story is one of a ‘skinny three-year-old girl’ who ‘lay dying on a mat, surrounded by crying relatives’ in a village in south-western Zimbabwe during the summer of 1999.1 The imagery is powerful, the story familiar from media reports of famine in Africa and the conclusion (to what is promoted as a ‘balanced’ and ‘unemotional’ perspective2) clear: if well harnessed, agricultural biotechnology can solve the problems of famine and hunger in subSaharan Africa and South Asia.


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Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

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Scoones, I.


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