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Intellectual property rights, genetically modified seeds and farmers' food sovereignty : the case study of South Africa.

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This dissertation discusses the concepts of Food Security and Food Sovereignty and the introduction of biotechnology into the international agricultural sector. It specifically focuses on the effects of the introduction of Genetically Modified seeds and Intellectual Property Rights. By discussing the effects of biotechnology and the concurrent implementation of neoliberal market-oriented economic policies, this dissertation aims to highlight international Food Regime developments during the last half century. In South Africa, the case study, these developments have bifurcated the national agricultural sector and strengthened the relationship between Agricultural Trans National Corporations and subsequent governments. This has led to the promotion of large-scale commercial farmers in the formal market sector, at the expense of the food sovereignty of smallscale traditional farmers in the informal market sector. A substantial portion of this discussion concerns the role and behaviour of the United States, as the dominant economic power post World War II. Strategic agricultural support given to individual nations during the Cold War, shaped the contemporary international Food Regime. In addition, the United States' Food Aid program (an attempt to resolve its overproduction) and its promotion of neo-liberal policies through supranational institutions have created an environment in which Agricultural Trans-national Corporations have emerged, consolidated and become increasingly influential. By embracing biotechnologies and lobbying governments to assist in their introduction and protection, these Agricultural Trans National Corporations have substantially altered the relationship between farmers and their crops. This dissertation analyses the South African agricultural sector in the light of the international Food Regime, taking into account its domestic legacy. A legacy characterized by: Centuries of discriminatory policies; a close relationship between the governments of the United States and South Africa; neoliberal friendly economic policies; the adoption and promotion of biotechnologies; Intellectual Property Right legislation; and a heavily bifurcated agricultural sector in which small-scale traditional farmers are effectively losing their Food Sovereignty.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2008.


Food supply--South Africa., Genetically modified foods., Agricutural biotechnology--South Africa., Theses--Development studies.