Food security and secure food in the Anthropocene


Discussions of the Anthropocene often position the human species as acting with such profound force as to have impacted the planet at a material, geological level. While frequently coupled with a view of human control and god-like status, we caution against a reading of the Anthropocene as an epoch of human geo-planetary control, certainty, and ecological interdependence. Instead we argue that the Anthropocene signifies a period of profound uncertainty and asymmetry in which our dependence on inhuman planetary forces is a defining attribute. We argue that food safety – specifically food recalls – effectively demonstrates this reading of the Anthropocene. We address two sides of securing the food system in North America: how food safety is defined, ensured, or compromised; and how unsafe food is subsequently managed as a waste product to be securely destroyed, or as a potential raw material to produce other commodities. We suggest that biopolitics is the primary means by which humans attempt to manage the fundamental uncertainty of the Anthropocene, while also shaping that very future.

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    Some participants were interviewed twice, and some interviews involved more than one participant.

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    Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests provide public access to government documents and correspondence data not typically released to the public.


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Both authors acknowledge that the research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant number 43520130560.

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Correspondence to Scott Cameron Lougheed.

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Lougheed, S.C., Hird, M.J. Food security and secure food in the Anthropocene. Crime Law Soc Change 68, 499–514 (2017).

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