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Browsing by Subject "vanguard visions"

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  • Laine, Emilia (2023)
    Cellular agriculture (CA) is an overarching concept for biotechnologies using animal or plant cells or microbes to produce agricultural goods industrially. Although these technologies are promoted as green innovations allowing food and material production sustainably “without fields”, multiple technical and socio-ecological concerns remain. As increasing amounts of public money are invested in developing food biotechnologies in the name of the green transition, it becomes crucial to analyze which food futures are advanced at the expense of others. While located in the nexus of the sociology of expectations and social scientific research on alternative proteins, the study is also inspired by ecofeminist perspectives on food systems. Analyzing how relevant stakeholders (industry vanguards, researchers, policy-makers, and NGO representatives) situate CA vis-à-vis the current food system and envision its future in Finland, it builds from 15 semi-structured in-depth interviews and a secondary data set consisting of media and industry websites. Concretely, I explore 1) how CA is defined and framed as a solution to the crises of industrial agriculture; 2) what types of vanguard visions can be identified, and how the prevalent visions intend to structure the field; and 3) what types of uncertainties, or narrative silences, the stakeholders identify regarding the future of CA in the Finnish context. The study identifies eight vanguard visions (increased efficiency, controlled environment, environmental restoration, less livestock more ethically, enhancement through molecularization, feeding the growing population, local revitalization through technology, and clean technology for green growth). It illustrates how the vanguards link their visions to the broader sociotechnical imaginary of carbon neutrality in Finland in order to gain public acceptance and attract future funding. Moreover, the concept of narrative silences structures the analysis of the potential consequences of a successful sociotechnical revolution. Those consequences are divided into creative (e.g., the creation of new energy demand) and destructive ones (e.g., the damaging impacts for farmers and more-than-human rural livelihoods). Lastly, I argue that future research on CA should engage in thinking how food biotechnologies could support the re-worlding of technoscience while asking critical questions regarding ownership and the dominant growth-driven sustainability paradigm.