Angela Lee will be giving a presentation on “Why ‘Frankenfoods’ Need Feminism” as part of Feminist Legal Studies Queen’s Speaker Series on March 1, 2019, from 1:00-2:30pm in room 202, Macdonald Hall, Queen’s University.
New food innovations are touted by some to be an indispensable part of the toolkit when it comes to feeding a growing population, especially when factoring in the growing appetite for animal products. To this end, technologies like genetically engineered (GE) animals and in vitro meat are currently in various stages of research and development, with proponents claiming a myriad of justificatory benefits. However, as the pejorative neologism "frankenfood" suggests, there has also been profound resistance against genetically modified foods and other kinds of technoscientific interventions in the realm of food and agriculture. As this polarized debate rages on within specialized circles as well as in the broader public discourse, global concerns about the state of food, agriculture, and hunger continue to proliferate.
At this point, it seems apparent that technology has some role to play in any vision of a sustainable future. That being said, the exact contours of that role remain fluid, and feminist insights are particularly important in ensuring that technoscientific claims to neutrality are closely interrogated, especially when they run the risk of being uncritically assimilated by the law. This is because it is important to consider not only the technical attributes and promissory possibilities of new food innovations, but also the worldviews that are being imported in turn, as well as the unanticipated social and environmental consequences that could result.
In addition to critiquing dominant paradigms, an inclusive, intersectional ecofeminist perspective offers a different way of thinking about new food innovations, with the aim of exposing inherent biases, rejecting a view of institutions like science and law as being objective, and advancing methods and rationales for a more explicitly ethical form of decision-making. Alternative and marginalized perspectives are especially valuable in this context, because careful reflection on the range of concerns implicated by new food innovations is necessary in order to better evaluate whether or not they can contribute to the building of a more sustainable and just food system for all.