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Experts to the Rescue? An Analysis of the role of experts in biotechnology regulation in Kenya

Kingiri, A

Journal of International Development   22 (3) 325-340

April 2011

Abstract: The biotechnology sector attracts a wide range of interested actors with some getting entangled in the development of requisite regulatory systems as experts in the virtue of being knowledge suppliers and innovation drivers. However, questions have arisen as to whether experts enhance or constrain the evolution of regulatory structures for management of biotechnology as part of its broader governance. This has direct impact on biotechnology development based on the roles played by different governance actors. Using a dynamic case study of Kenya in its effort to institute a viable regulatory system to govern biotechnology, this paper explores the role of experts in regulating innovations. It draws insights from the Kenyan experience with a view of evaluating how the role of experts, in particular the scientific community can spur positive contributions towards pro-innovation and pro-poor biotechnology policy processes. This recontextualised role of experts is explored from the perspective of knowledge use and how it is linked to development. This is because of the tension between undisputed role of biotechnology as an economic driver and the political nature of biotechnology regulation in the African context. Copyright # 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: biotechnology; biosafety; innovations; Kenya; regulatory policies; science and technology