Globalisation and the international governance of modern biotechnology: The implications for food security in Kenya Working Paper uri icon


  • Agricultural biotechnology in Kenya is characterised by low-technology applications such as biofertilisers, micropropagation and use of molecular assisted selection (MAS), however, and the country is experiencing an increased number of agricultural R&D activities in high-tech biotechnology options. These include work on transgenic sweet potato, Bt maize and recombinant DNA livestock vaccines and diagnostics. The introduction of these applications in Kenya has stimulated debate on globalisation issues (including equity and governance of IPRs, biosafety, investments and trade) and their potential impacts on food security in the country. This study uses secondary literature and a case study approach to review elements of globalisation and international governance of modern agricultural biotechnology and to assess their potential impact on the local and national food security in Kenya. The report provides some background to the agriculture and food production trends in Kenya in Section 2. This is followed by an analysis of the policy and institutional context for agricultural biotechnology in Kenya. Section 4 reviews some of biotechnology programmes and regulations that have recently been introduced into Kenya, or are being considered as means of alleviating food insecurity in the country. Section 5 briefly describes two case studies of agricultural biotechnology introductions, namely transgenic sweet potato and Bt Maize. The cases were selected because they represent biotechnology R&D-inspired innovation process, which challenges the traditional role of the state and of rural livelihoods, as we know them today. In Section 6, we examine how the transfer of transgenic sweet potato and Bt Maize to Kenya have contributed to the national agricultural biotechnology policy and regulations, and their potential impacts on food security in the country. The report concludes with a summary of key issues and lessons learned.

publication date

  • 2003


  • Biotechnology
  • Food security
  • Governance
  • Kenya