Book “Rice Biofortification” – reviews


Rice Biofortification: Lessons for Global Science and Development (Routledge: 2010)

Rice Biofortification

“Essential reading for both critics and proponents of biotechnology in international development” 

– Paul Richards, Professor Emeritus, Knowledge, Technology and Innovation, Wageningen University


‘Don’t be fooled by the title. This book is of greater importance and broader relevance that its title would lead readers to believe. Sally Brooks, an experienced international development practitioner and an agile researcher, uses the case of rice biofortification to argue for a more context-sensitive approach to ‘science for development’… Brooks’s level-headed version of this argument is newly important for at least three reasons, which are each explored in her text: first, because of the recent hegemonic influence of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that structure notions of impact and drive programmatic design; second, because of the rise of Silicon Valley-style philanthropy, notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF); and third, because of new pressures for urgent solutions to the … food crisis’ –  Joanna Davidson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Boston University, Journal of Peasant Studies, 40(4): 790-795 (2013).

‘A deeply thought-provoking book, this study of biofortification in rice explores how and why public science so often irons out complex needs into a demand for pre-packaged solutions. Are the great private philanthropic foundations and the brilliant scientists they fund simply incapable of understanding the lives of the rural poor? The author prefers instead to make a case for deep institutional reform, offering space for new types of partnership. Biofortification could yet become an exemplar of a different, boundary-crossing, socially-informed science for poverty alleviation. Her book is essential reading for both critics and proponents of biotechnology in international development’ – Paul Richards, Emeritis Professor, Knowledge, Technology and Innovation, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

‘One of Brooks’ key arguments is that the silver bullet approach seems flawed from the start, by seeking a universal solution for very different situations thus ignoring the end-consumers, with their cultural contexts, habits and expectations. The idea behind generating an international public good that can be disseminated for adaption and adoption in various places is a top-down process that dismisses local knowledge and experience. Her analysis, however, is not disparaging but rather conciliatory. By explaining the pros and cons of various situations, the reader can understand the tensions and potentials within an innovative field’ – Raul Acosta, ITESO University, Mexico, Journal of Biosocial Science 44:127-128 (2012)

‘A lucid analysis of the decision making in international agricultural research which emphasizes a technical, commercial approach. Malnutrition is far better tackled with a biodiversity approach that makes available local foods that can be eaten fresh and are free – Suman Sahai, Convenor, Gene Campaign, New Delhi, India

Rice Biofortification convincingly illustrates the tenacity of the top down linear research paradigm which unfortunately still dominates the international agricultural research agenda. How researchers can effectively work with local contexts is an important issue, which the author handles admirably’ – Joachim Voss, independent research professional, formerly Director General of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Colombia

‘Focusing on the case of rice biofortification this elegantly written book argues that increasing concerns over food security are pushing policy makers towards taking top-down approaches to science and research policy’ – Peter Gregory, Professor of Global Food Security, University of Reading, Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 47(3): 178 (2011)

‘I will admit that upon receiving the book, I anticipated a science-focused discussion that could be used in a genetic engineering course. Instead, the policy coverage was an eye-opening viewpoint different than that told in the public press or the news and views sections of scientific journals. With careful documentation by Brooks, Rice Biofortification reads as a history book connecting personalities whose decisions led to formation of a central scientific process removed from the agricultural development issues initially identified’ – Wilson Crone, Albany Medical College, Journal of Economic Botany, 65(4):433-434 (2011)

‘A book for those formulating and appraising scientific research and its impact on social development’ New Agriculturalist

‘The book is presented in a logical format making it available to a wide range of readers, including agricultural and nutritional scientists/researchers, consultants, policy makers and especially funding agencies/donors’ – Atif Kamran, Department of Botany, University of Punjab, Pakistan; and Muhammad Asif, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta, Journal of Agriculture and Human Values, 30:143–144 (2013)

‘The issues related to the organisation of public science and research highlighted in the book are very relevant in the context of the recent debates in India related to the commerical release of Bt Brinjal. Rice Biofortification would be useful for both critics and proponents of biotechnology’ – Green Teacher (, Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India