Wednesday, 15 August 2007


By GERRY BLOOM, STEPS Centre member

Over the past few months there have been a number of stories in the international media about dangerous exports from China. On the one hand, this reflects a recognition that China needs to establish regulatory systems to ensure the good performance of its burgeoning market economy. The failures of China’s newly established Food and Drug Regulatory Agency and the sentencing to death of its first director, Zheng Xiaoyu, highlighted this problem to the international community. Since then there have been newspaper stories about dangerous food, dangerous toys and other dangerous products.

There are also stories about China as a major source of carbon emissions and a potential competitor in a new arms race. We should be wary of the coherence of this new narrative about a strong and threatening China. It certainly reflects truths about China’s largely unregulated economy, but it also reflects the fears of economic competitors who would gain by damaging the brand “China”. It could also lead to major contracts for military R&D and divert attention from the strategic implications of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The media’s portrayal of India is also paying increasing attention to the wealth and power of its middle classes and the potential risks of its economic growth and integration into global markets.
These portrayals of China and India as powerful and potential sources of competition and risk are likely to gain in importance. They could play a growing role in political discourse in the advanced market economies. They create new challenges for Indian and Chinese citizens who have strong interests in creating pressure for the establishment of regulatory states in their countries (but with what standards) but also support attempts by their large corporations to challenge arrangements whereby global value chains in some sectors are largely controlled by a small number of firms linked to regulatory agencies in a few countries.

We are in interesting times and we can anticipate many complex negotiations around these issues as China and India threaten existing arrangements. The battle over narratives will play an important part in these negotiations..
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Wednesday, 8 August 2007


By Erik Millstone, STEPS Centre member

The new UK foot and mouth crisis highlights the need for the government to drag the veterinary medicines directorate into the 21st century, says Erik Millstone in a comment piece for the Guardian's Comment is Free website. Read more

Friday, 3 August 2007


The first STEPS Centre Symposium is being held alongside the Development Studies Association Annual Conference to tie in with this year’s theme of Connecting Science, Society and Development. The event is being held at the Institute of Development Studies from 18-20 September.

STEPS Centre programme at DSA 2007
Join us
for the STEPS drinks reception on the first evening of the DSA conference, 18 September at 6.00pm.

Hear from David King, UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Pedro Sanchez, Scientific Director of UN Millennium project as well as members of the STEPS Centre and advisory committee at the main DSA plenary sessions, including: Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Prof. Sheila Jasanoff, Sunita Narain, Prof. Erik Millstone and David Dickson

STEPS Symposium panels, running throughout DSA 2007:
Pathways to sustainability: Linking technology, poverty reduction and social justice. Tues 18 Sept, 4pm-5.30pm

Peri-urban dynamics and sustainability challenges. Wed 19 Sept, 11.15am-12.45pm

Technologies spiralling out of control? Politics and ethics of risk and regulation of agro-biotechnology. Wed 19 Sept, 4pm-5.30pm

Examining the ‘pro-poor consensus’ on agricultural biotechnology: a moveable boundary between public and private? Thurs 20 Sept, 11.15am-12.45pm

Find out more about the STEPS Symposium at DSA 2007
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