The Knowledge Politics of Genome Editing in Africa
Sean Rock, Joeva
Schnurr, Matthew A.
Stone, Glenn Davis
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How is the promise of crop genome editing viewed by scientists working with or aspiring to work with the technology, by development experts seeking to mold public perceptions and policy attitudes toward genome editing, and by donors that provide funds for genome-editing research for agricultural applications in sub-Saharan Africa? In this article, we present data from interviews with these stakeholders to shed light on their aspirations, concerns, and expectations. Previous scholarship on genome editing in relation to African agriculture has focused on the technical capabilities of genome editing techniques and surveys of current research and development activities in this field. This article contextualizes and reflects critically on expectations that genome editing can or will deliver benefits for African scientists and farmers. The interviews reveal excitement around genome editing and anticipation for what it could achieve, but also a sober realism and frustration regarding the political-economic hurdles that constrain African scientists and research institutions and the generation of public goods for African farmers and societies. These insights, we show, challenge extant narratives related to genome editing and accessibility. As such, we center and interrogate the politics of knowledge surrounding the emergence of genome editing in Africa.