UNMAKING: a research programme on the disruption of capitalism in societal transformation to sustainability


Giuseppe Feola talks at Future Food Annual Symposium

Giuseppe Feola spoke at Utrecht University’s Future Food Annual Symposium, on the theme ‘Future Food Systems: Evolution or Revolution’.

Giuseppe discussed the following statement, in response to the organizer’s invitation to discuss whether achieving sustainable food systems would involve evolution or revolution, and what would be the role of scientists in that endeavour: Nothing short of a fundamental transformation can tackle the unsustainability and injustice of industrial food systems. Their unsustainability and injustice has roots not merely in socio-technical or managerial fallacies, but also, and more importantly, in political-economic structures and in cultural models of capitalist development. Yet, the food system harbors an often unappreciated diversity. The ‘seeds’ of transformation exist, here and now, at the margins and in the interstices of the food system. They represent a compass for the fundamental transformation of the food system. Provided the compass is held firm, an evolutionary policy approach has the potential to transform the food system. This involves leveraging variation of agri-food practices, supporting the transmission of alternatives, and deliberately guiding their selection, including the phase-out of unsustainable and unjust agri-food practices. Scientists have a choice to make: they can do research that contributes to fundamentally reconfiguring, or rather to reproducing existing patterns of ecological and social damage and injustice in the food system. Research that does not challenge the fundamental structures upholding the food system helps reproduce unsustainability and injustice, and therefore reveals an implicit normative position of support for the status quo.