The Future of the Agrifood System: Competing Visions and Contested Discourses

Monday, 11 July 2016: 18:30
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Douglas CONSTANCE, Sam Houston State University, USA
Over the past fifty years a growing consensus has emerged that the conventional agrifood system is ecologically, economically, and socially unjust and unsustainable. Alternative agrifood initiatives and related social movements such as organics, fair trade, Slow Food, local food, geographic indications, community supported agriculture, food justice and food provide an agro-ecological counter position to the hegemonic discourse of corporate-controlled, chemical-based monoculture agriculture. While some proponents view this collection of alternatives as the vanguard social movement of our time which can counter the powerful forces of globalization based on neoliberalism, others question the transformative ability of these movements as the processes of mainstreaming and conventionalization create accommodative market-based alternatives rather than radical oppositions to the dominant system.  In the last 10 years as the legitimation crisis of conventional agriculture reached critical mass, the word “sustainable” has come into play as competing factions mobilize to capture the meaning of the term. Conventional agriculture proponents have counter-attacked utilizing discourses such as ecological modernization and sustainable intensification.  Alternative agriculture proponents such as La Via Campesina advocate for an agrifood future based on agro-ecology and food sovereignty.  The result is increasingly contested visions, discourses, and actions to influence the transition to our future agrifood system.