Countertop bioreactors and remote facilities: tracing the future geographies of cultured meat and post animal food products.

Authors: Erik Jönsson*, Lund University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: future visions, biotechnology, meat, food, cultured meat
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Studio 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper centres on kinds of food that the vast majority of people have only ever encountered as a set of stories: cultured meat and so-called post-animal food products. Frequently centred on high hopes for biotechnological developments, stories about such food products depict future ways of consuming (hitherto) animal-derived food without the sense of guilt today often associated with such consumption. In proponents’ accounts, popular science articles, and newspaper depictions, biotechnological developments are understood as eventually ensuring that consuming animal-derived products could be both environmentally sustainable, and removed from the necessity of ever slaughtering any livestock. These depictions tend to emphasise the future meals that consumers are to expect. But importantly, consumption-centred depictions are sometimes accompanied by depictions of future economic geographies supposedly enabled by a turn towards ‘post-animal’ food production. In sharp contrast to the shift towards large-scale operations within animal agriculture to date, many such depictions underscore how biotechnological developments should permit a return to small-scale food-production systems partly centred on consumers producing their own food. No longer should entire regions be subordinated to the requirements of animal agriculture (cf. Blanchette, 2013). Similarly emphasising the possibility to free food production from present geographical constraints, other stories instead depict how producers could erect massive facilities far from human settlements. Scrutinising these depictions, enables illuminating not only the problems that proponents of post-animal food production perceive in today’s food system, but also what they see as feasible, probable, or desirable alternative food geographies.

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