Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 511–523 | Cite as

If they come, we will build it: in vitro meat and the discursive struggle over future agrofood expectations

Article

Abstract

According to recent literature in the sociology of expectations, expectations about the future are “performative” in that they provide guidance for activities, attract attention, mobilize political and economic resources, coordinate between groups, link technical and social concerns, create visions, and enroll supporters. While this framework has blossomed over the past decade in science and technology studies, it has yet to be applied towards a more refined understanding of how the future of the modern agrofood system is being actively contested and understood. I seek to redress this gap by using the sociology of expectations to explain the discursive topography surrounding in vitro meat, a nascent agrofood technology whereby processed meat products are developed from stem cells as opposed to live animals. In discussing the obstacles and challenges which confront the proponents of this technology, I utilize three key concepts from the sociology of expectations: (1) hype, (2) retrospective prospects, and (3) the role of myth, metaphor, and ideology. I find that despite sluggish results and financial setbacks, the controversial legacy of previous agrofood technologies, and persistent cultural skepticism, the core ideological justifications for in vitro meat have proven to be resilient in buoying the technology through rough discursive waters.

Keywords

In vitro meat Agrofood Sociology of expectations Technology Discourse Stakeholders 

References

  1. Adger, W.N., T.A. Benjaminsen, K. Brown, and H. Svarstad. 2001. Advancing a political ecology of global environmental discourses. Development & Change 32(4): 681–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armaza-Armaza, E.J., and J. Armaza-Galdos. 2010. Legal and ethical challenges regarding edible in vitro meat production. In Global food security: Ethical and legal challenges, ed. C.M. Romeo-Casabona, L. San Epifanio, and A. Cirión, 513–520. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Bakker, S., H. Van Lente, and M. Meeus. 2011. Arenas of expectations for hydrogen technologies. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 78(1): 152–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barham, E. 2002. Towards a theory of values-based labeling. Agriculture and Human Values 19(4): 349–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartholet, J. 2011. Inside the meat lab. Scientific American 304(6): 64–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beardsworth, A., and T. Keil. 1997. Sociology on the menu: An invitation to the study of food and society. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Belasco, W. 2006. Meals to come: A history of the future of food. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  8. Benjaminson, M.A., J.A. Gilchriest, and M. Lorenz. 2002. In vitro edible muscle protein production system (mpps): Stage 1, fish. Acta Astronautica 51(12): 879–889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Best, J. 2011. In-vitro meat still not on the table. Slashfood.com. http://www.slashfood.com/2011/02/01/in-vitro-meat-still-not-on-the-table/. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  10. Bhat, Z.F., and H. Bhat. 2011. Animal-free meat biofabrication. American Journal of Food Technology 6(6): 441–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Borup, M., N. Brown, K. Konrad, and H. Van Lente. 2006. The sociology of expectations in science and technology. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 18(3): 285–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Boyle, A. 2012. Lab-grown hamburger due to be served up this year … for $330,000. Msnbc.com. http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/19/10449704-lab-grown-hamburger-due-to-be-served-up-this-year-for-330000?lite. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  13. Brasier, K.J. 2002. Ideology and discourse: Characterizations of the 1996 farm bill by agricultural interest groups. Agriculture and Human Values 19(3): 239–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown, N., and M. Michael. 2003. A sociology of expectations: Retrospecting prospects and prospecting retrospects. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 15(1): 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brown, N., B. Rappert, and A. Webster. 2000. Introducting contested futures: From looking into the future to looking at the future. In Contested futures: A sociology of prospective techno-science, ed. N. Brown, B. Rappert, and A. Webster, 3–20. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  16. Brown, N. 2003. Hope against hype—Accountability in biopasts, presents and futures. Science Studies 16(2): 3–21.Google Scholar
  17. Busch, L. 2008. Nanotechnologies, food, and agriculture: Next big thing or flash in the pan? Agriculture and Human Values 25(2): 215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Busch, L. 2005. Commentary on “Ever since Hightower: The politics of agricultural research activism in the molecular age”. Agriculture and Human Values 22(3): 285–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Buttel, F.H. 2005. Ever since hightower: The politics of agricultural research activism in the molecular age. Agriculture and Human Values 22(3): 275–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Buttel, F.H. 2000. The recombinant BGH controversy in the United States: Toward a new consumption politics of food? Agriculture and Human Values 17(1): 5–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Buttel, F.H., O.F. Larson, and G.W. Gillespie. 1990. The sociology of agriculture. New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  22. Catts, O., and I. Zurr. 2006. Towards a new class of being—the extended body. Artnodes 6(2): 1–9.Google Scholar
  23. Catts, O., and I. Zurr. 2002. Growing semi-living sculptures: The tissue culture & art project. Leonardo 35(4): 365–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Charmaz, K. 2000. Grounded theory: Objectivist and constructivist methods. In Handbook of qualitative research, ed. N.K. Denzin, and Y.S. Lincoln, 509–536. London: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  25. Collins, N. 2011. First artificial burger to cost £250,000: Telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8733576/First-artificial-burger-to-cost-250000.html. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  26. Cuhls, K. 2008. Science, technology, and innovation drivers: Short report to the SCAR Expert Working Group. European Commission Standing Committee on Agricultural Research. http://ec.europa.eu/research/agriculture/scar/index_en.cfm?p=3_foresight. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  27. Datar, I., and M. Betti. 2010. Possibilities for an in vitro meat production system. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies 11(1): 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Delind, L., and P. Howard. 2008. Safe at any scale? Food scares, food regulation, and scaled alternatives. Agriculture and Human Values 25(3): 301–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. DiGregorio, S. 2008. Test tube meat? The Village Voice. http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/2008/04/test_tube_meat_1.php. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  30. Driessen, C., and M. Korthals. 2012. Pig towers and in-vitro meat: Disclosing moral worlds by design. Social Studies of Science 0: 1–24.Google Scholar
  31. Dryzek, J. 1997. The politics of the earth: Environmental discourses. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. DuPuis, E.M. 2000. Not in my body: BGH and the rise of organic milk. Agriculture and Human Values 17(3): 285–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Edelman, P.D., D.C. McFarland, V.A. Mironov, and J.G. Matheny. 2005. Commentary: In vitro-cultured meat production. Tissue Engineering 11(5–6): 659–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ford, M. 2009. In-vitro meat: Would lab-burgers be better for us and the planet? http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/08/07/eco.invitro.meat/index.html. Accessed 17 Oct 2009.
  35. Fuchs, D., A. Kalfagianni, and T. Havinga. 2011. Actors in private food governance: The legitimacy of retail standards and multistakeholder initiatives with civil society participation. Agriculture and Human Values 28(3): 353–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Geels, F.W., and W.A. Smit. 2000. Talking about the future: Metaphors of the internet. In Contested futures: A sociology of prospective techno-science, ed. N. Brown, B. Rappert, and A. Webster, 109–128. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  37. Glaser, B.G., and A.L. Strauss. 1967. The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago, IL: Aldine Pub. Co.Google Scholar
  38. Goodman, D. 2002. Rethinking food production-consumption: Integrative perspectives. Sociologia Ruralis 42(4): 271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Haagsman, H.P., K.J. Hellingwerf, and B.A.J. Roelen. 2009. Production of animal proteins by cell systems: Desk study on cultured meat. Utrecht University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht. http://www.new-harvest.org/img/files/production_of_animal_proteins_1207.pdf. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  40. Hajer, M. 1995. The politics of environmental discourse: Ecological modernization and the policy process. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Harvey, F. 2011. Artificial meat could slice emissions, say scientists. Guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/20/artificial-meat-emissions. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  42. Heselmans, M. 2005. The Dutch cultivate minced meat in a petri dish. NRC Handelsblad. http://www.new-harvest.org/article09102005.htm. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  43. Hjortsø, C.N., S.M. Christensen, and P. Tarp. 2005. Rapid stakeholder and conflict assessment for natural resource management using cognitive mapping: The case of Damdoi Forest Enterprise, Vietnam. Agriculture and Human Values 22(2): 149–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hopkins, P., and A. Dacey. 2008. Vegetarian meat: Could technology save animals and satisfy meat eaters? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 21(6): 579–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Horst, M. 2007. Public expectations of gene therapy: Scientific futures and their performative effects on scientific citizenship. Science, Technology, & Human Values 32(2): 150–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kelland, K. 2011. Petri dish to dinner plate, in-vitro meat coming soon. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/11/us-science-meat-f-idUSTRE7AA30020111111. Accessed 20 Sept 2012.
  47. Ketzel, L. 2008. Lab-grown meat a reality, but who will eat it? NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90235492. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  48. Kitzinger, J. 2008. Questioning hype, rescuing hope? The Hwang stem cell scandal and the reassertion of hopeful horizons. Science as Culture 17(4): 417–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Klein, H.K., and D.L. Kleinman. 2002. The social construction of technology: Structural considerations. Science, Technology, and Human Values 27(1): 28–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kloppenburg, J. 2004. First the seed. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  51. Kloppenburg, J., J. Hendrickson, and G.W. Stevenson. 1996. Coming into the foodshed. Agriculture and Human Values 13(3): 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kloppenburg, J., and M. Kenney. 1984. Biotechnology, seeds, and the restructuring of agriculture. Critical Sociology 12(3): 3–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Konrad, K. 2006. The social dynamics of expectations: The interaction of collective and actor-specific expectations on electronic commerce and interactive television. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 18(3): 429–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Langelaan, M.L.P., K.J.M. Boonen, R.B. Polak, F.P.T. Baaijens, M.J. Post, and D.W.J. van der Schaft. 2010. Meet the new meat: Tissue engineered skeletal muscle. Trends in Food Science & Technology 21(2): 59–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lehrer, N. 2010. (Bio) fueling farm policy: The biofuels boom and the 2008 farm bill. Agriculture and Human Values 27(4): 427–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Lockie, S. 2006. Capturing the sustainability agenda: Organic foods and media discourses on food scares, environment, genetic engineering, and health. Agriculture and Human Values 23(3): 313–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Lockie, S. 1998. Environmental and social risks, and the construction of “best-practice” in Australian agriculture. Agriculture and Human Values 15(3): 243–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Loftus, J. 2011. Ten years in, lab-grown meat still stuck in its infancy. Gizmodo.com. http://gizmodo.com/5747184/ten-years-in-lab+grown-meat-still-stuck-in-its-infancy. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  59. López, J.J. 2008. Nanotechnology: Legitimacy, narrative and emergent technologies. Sociology Compass 2(4): 1266–1286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. McGrail, S. 2010. Nano dreams and nightmares: Emerging technoscience and the framing and (re)interpreting of the future, present and past. Journal of Futures Studies 14(4): 23–48.Google Scholar
  61. McHugh, S. 2010. Real artificial: Tissue-cultured meat, genetically modified farm animals, and fictions. Configurations 18(1–2): 181–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Meghani, Z. 2008. Values, technologies, and epistemology. Agriculture and Human Values 25(1): 25–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Merton, R. K. 1973. The sociology of science: Theoretical and empirical investigations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  64. Meyers, G. 2011. Raising meat in greener ways: Reuters.com. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/22/idUS402583502120110722. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  65. Mironov, V., T. Trusk, V. Kasyanov, S. Little, R. Swaja, and R. Markwald. 2009. Biofabrication: A 21st century manufacturing paradigm. Biofabrication 1(2): 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Neef, A., and D. Neubert. 2011. Stakeholder participation in agricultural research projects: A conceptual framework for reflection and decision-making. Agriculture and Human Values 28(2): 179–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Nerlich, B., and C. Halliday. 2007. Avian flu: The creation of expectations in the interplay between science and the media. Sociology of Health & Illness 29(1): 46–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Oliver, P., and H. Johnston. 2000. What a good idea! Ideologies and frames in social movement research. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 5(1): 37–54.Google Scholar
  69. Omholt, S. W. 2008. The first in vitro meat symposium. The in vitro meat consortium. http://invitromeat.org/content/view/14/1/. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  70. Osborne, A. 2008. The in vitro meat consortium preliminary economics study: eXmoor Pharma Concepts. http://www.new-harvest.org/img/files/culturedmeatecon.pdf. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  71. Pincock, S. 2007. Meat, in vitro? The Scientist 21(9): 22.Google Scholar
  72. Pluhar, E. 2010. Meat and morality: Alternatives to factory farming. Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics 23(5): 455–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Post, M.J. 2012. Cultured meat from stem cells: Challenges and prospects. Meat Science 92(3): 297–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Revkin, A. 2008. Can people have meat and a planet, too? The New York Times. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/can-people-have-meat-and-a-planet-too/. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  75. Ruef, A., and J. Markard. 2010. What happens after a hype? How changing expectations affected innovation activities in the case of stationary fuel cells. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 22(3): 317–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Schonwald, J. 2009. Future fillet. University of Chicago Magazine 101(5): 28–31.Google Scholar
  77. Selin, C. 2007. Expectations and the emergence of nanotechnology. Science, Technology, & Human Values 32(2): 196–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Shackley, S., and B. Wynne. 1996. Representing uncertainty in global climate change science and policy: Boundary-ordering devices and authority. Science, Technology, & Human Values 21(3): 275–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Simon, A., and M. Xenos. 2000. Media framing and effective public deliberation. Political Communication 17(4): 363–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Specter, M. 2011. Test-tube burgers. The New Yorker 87(14): 32–38.Google Scholar
  81. Stephens, N. 2010. In vitro meat: Zombies on the menu? SCRIPTed 7(2): 394–401.Google Scholar
  82. The Economist. 2006. A meaty question. The Economist. http://www.economist.com/node/7904194?story_id=7904194. Accessed 14 June 2012.
  83. Tuomisto, H.L., and M.J. Teixeira de Mattos. 2011. Environmental impacts of cultured meat production. Environmental Science & Technology 45(14): 6117–6123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Van der Weele, C. 2010. In vitro meat: Promises and responses: Cooperation between science, social research, and ethics. In Global food security: Ethical and legal challenges, ed. C.M. Romeo-Casabona, L. San Epifanio, and A. Cirión, 505–512. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  85. van Lente, H. 2000. Forceful futures: From promise to requirement. In Contested futures: A sociology of prospective techno-science, ed. N. Brown, B. Rappert, and A. Webster, 43–64. Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  86. Welin, S., J. Gold, and J. Berlin. 2012. In vitro meat: What are the moral issues. In The philosophy of food, ed. D. Kaplan, 292–304. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  87. Welin, S., and C. Van der Weele. 2012. Cultured meat: Will it separate us from nature? In Climate change and sustainable development: Ethical perspectives on land use and food production, ed. E. Potthast, and S. Meisch, 348–354. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  88. Wilkie, A., and M. Michael. 2009. Expectation and mobilisation. Science, Technology & Human Values 34(4): 502–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Williams, S.J., J. Gabe, and P. Davis. 2008. The sociology of pharmaceuticals: Progress and prospects. Sociology of Health & Illness 30(6): 813–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Yin, J. 1999. Elite opinion and media diffusion: Exploring environmental attitudes. Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 4(3): 62–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Zurr, I., and O. Catts. 2003. The ethical claims of bio-art: Killing the other or self-cannibalism? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art 5(1): 167–188.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community and Environmental SociologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations