SOCBIOAfri : Addressing Social Challenges of Biotechnology in Africa. Towards balanced Innovation

Project identifier 89-SOCBIOAFRI
Project Status finished
Start date 2014-07-01
End date 2017-06-30
Roadmap Theme
  • Sustainable intensification: Organizational innovations
  • Cross-cutting issues: Integration of research and innovation activities
  • Type of Project Applied research project
    Programme ERAfrica
    Keyword Biotechnology; Genetically modified crops; socioeconomics
    Location Kenya; Burkina Faso; Belgium; Netherlands
    Budget 812 443
    Main Funder Dutch Research Council (NWO)
    Co Funder Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST)
    Co Funder Department of Science and Technology (DST), South Africa
    Co Funder Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO)
    Co Funder Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS), Belgium
    Coordinator University of Groningen
  • National Biosafety Authority (NBA)
  • Ghent University
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
  • University of Ouagadougou
  • Project Web Site
    Documents Success stories from joint Africa-EU research funding – The ERAfrica Partnership



    Biotechnology is one of the strategies that may impact agricultural production in Africa by increasing productivity, reducing the need for pesticides, and improving crop resilience. These improvements can help farmers to meet the challenges brought by climate change and to increase food security. African countries are increasingly exploring this possibility through policies that support the introduction of genetically modified (GM) varieties of crops into agricultural practices. Regulatory frameworks are also being formulated aiming to protect human health, the environment and biological diversity, and to integrate cultural and socio-economic considerations in the implementation of GM.

    The SOCBIOAfri project found that management strategies and risk assessments, and safety frameworks are poorly communicated and sometimes subordinated to quite different political objects. This results in poor understanding of the strategies to make GM more effective, which in turn leads to reduced effectiveness of biotechnology.The project concluded that there is a need for training and providing knowledge to farmers on backgrounds of genetic modification and related agronomical requirements (e.g. refuges). Moreover, these strategies and frameworks often fail to integrate social-economic and cultural considerations, or to integrate stakeholders, including smallholder farmers, into decision-making and innovation processes. Socio-economic and cultural criteria should be taken much more and stronger into account in management strategies. SOCBIOAfri demonstrated that innovation is not just a technical process of improving a technological product. Rather, the research showed that innovation requires the simultaneous development of social domains and institutions as a consequence of the co-evolutionary nature of innovation.

    This is an ERAfrica project