Endless Qualifications, Restless Consumption: The Governance of Novel Foods in Europe

Lezaun, Javier and Schneider, Tanja (2012) Endless Qualifications, Restless Consumption: The Governance of Novel Foods in Europe. Science as Culture, 21 (3). pp. 365-391.

Abstract

Functional foods and foods derived from genetically modified organisms represent two forms of intervention in the design of foodstuffs that have given rise to distinct political and regulatory dynamics. In Europe, regulatory agencies have tried, unsuccessfully, to affix a definitive legal meaning to these categories of food artificiality. This incomplete process of legal disambiguation has gone hand in hand with the delegation of the responsibility for overseeing new products to consumers, who are asked to continuously consider and assess the qualities of foods when making their choices in the marketplace. In the case of genetically modified foods, we have witnessed strategies of avoidance premised on the consideration of genetic modification as a blemish on the conventional character of foodstuffs. Functional foods, on the other hand, are increasingly mobilized in practices of naturalistic enhancement. What both examples have in common is the open-ended character of their respective regulatory regimes, and the continuous prodding of consumers to involve themselves more intensely in the weighing of their food choices. The result is a particular mode of market activism that we describe as restless consumption.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Functional foods; GM foods; Distributed governance; Restless consumption; Economy of qualities
Subject(s): Science & technology management
Centre: Institute for Science, Innovation and Society
Date Deposited: 23 May 2012 14:55
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:07
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/3089

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