Evans, B., Johnson, H.
Responding to the problem of ‘food security’ in animal cruelty policy debates: building alliances between animal-centred and human-centred work on food system issues
(2020) Agriculture and Human Values, 37 (1), pp. 161-174.
Research on ethical issues within food systems is often human-centric. As a consequence, animal-centric policy debates where regulatory decisions about food are being made tend to be overlooked by food scholars and activists. This absence was notable in the recent debates around Australia’s animal live export industry. Using Foucault’s tools, we explore how ‘food security’ is conceptualised and governed within animal cruelty policy debates about the live export trade. The problem of food security produced in these debates shaped Indonesians as ‘victims’ of food insecurity due to the nation’s inability to produce sufficient quantities of protein. This understanding of the problem reproduced the dominant framing of food security as a problem for developing countries addressed by increasing global food production. The underlying premise uncritically accepted in Australia’s debates on live export trade was that intensive animal agriculture, and Australia’s live export trade specifically, were essential to alleviating global food insecurity. Drawing on our findings, we show how dominant representations of ‘food security’, and related regulatory and technological trajectories, flourish where alliances between animal and food activists, scholarship, and movements are weak. Accordingly, we argue for agri-food scholars to take up opportunities to contribute to the policy discussions about the treatment of animals to effectively expand the kinds of problems, solutions, and strategies of resistance produced in the discourses surrounding food system issues. © 2019, Springer Nature B.V.
Animal cruelty; Discourse; Food activism; Food security; Live export