Setting data free: The politics of open data for food and agriculture

Paper by M. Fairbairn, and Z. Kish: “Open data is increasingly being promoted as a route to achieve food security and agricultural development. This article critically examines the promotion of open agri-food data for development through a document-based case study of the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative as well as through interviews with open data practitioners and participant observation at open data events. While the concept of openness is striking for its ideological flexibility, we argue that GODAN propagates an anti-political, neoliberal vision for how open data can enhance agricultural development. This approach centers values such as private innovation, increased production, efficiency, and individual empowerment, in contrast to more political and collectivist approaches to openness practiced by some agri-food social movements. We further argue that open agri-food data projects, in general, have a tendency to reproduce elements of “data colonialism,” extracting data with minimal consideration for the collective harms that may result, and embedding their own values within universalizing information infrastructures…(More)”.