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date: 16 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Global assessments have become central to international debates on a range of key policy issues. They attempt to combine “expert assessment” with processes of “stakeholder consultation” in what are presented as global, participatory assessments on key issues of major international importance. This chapter focuses on the IAASTD—the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development—through a detailed analysis of the underlying knowledge politics involved, centered particularly on the controversy over genetically modified crops. Global assessments contribute to a new landscape of governance in the international arena, offering the potential for links between the local and the global and new ways of articulating citizen engagement with global processes of decision making and policy. The chapter argues that in global assessments the politics of knowledge need to be made more explicit and that negotiations around politics and values must be put center stage. The black-boxing of uncertainty, or the eclipsing of more fundamental clashes over interpretation and meaning, must be avoided for processes of participation and engagement in global assessments to become more meaningful, democratic, and accountable. A critique is thus offered of simplistic forms of deliberative democratic practice and the need to “bring politics back in” is affirmed.

Keywords: IAASTD, science, knowledge, politics, participation, agriculture, global assessment, development, genetically-modified crops

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