The Politics of Technology for Sustainable Food Systems
By Kim Niewolny, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our food and farming systems are experiencing great uncertainty. Climate change, food insecurity, and farm labor injustice are just a few of the complexities that frame our current conditions and perceptions of food system sustainability. At the same time, socio-technical innovation to sustainability has emerged as a possible solution. Sustainability technologies vary in scale, purpose, and politics. They include large-scale and entrepreneurial approaches such as big data analytics and robotic engineering in the agri-food sector.
They are also informed by localized approaches and paradigms, such as agroecology, vertical farming, and low-input assistive technology engineering.
Sustainability technologies also comprise multi-sector, network innovations in communication and organizational design that are capable of changing the conditions in which are necessary for sustainable systems to emerge, disrupt, and respond across multiple scales. This paper brings these issues forward through the lens of the newly formed Research Coordination Network (RCN), HARVEST, funded by the National Science Foundation. HARVEST is focused on the convergence of engineering, socio-behavioral, socio-political, and humanistic disciplines to explore the possibilities, dilemmas, and ethics of linking technology, systems thinking, and sustainability frameworks to enhance small farm sustainability as a global concern.
Drawing upon HARVEST, this paper critically explores how technology is discursively framed and the implications of this framing on the small farm experience by asking such questions as:
· What kinds of human-centered, socio-technical strategies currently exist?
· What are the possibilities for new solutions and imaginaries for food system sustainability?
· Most importantly, how can we can uphold equity in these responses?
Ontological and epistemological questions that were further posed as part of the paper presentation:
· What kinds of technology strategies currently exist and how are they framed?
· For whom and at what scale?
· How can we uphold equity in these responses?
· What agro-foodscape realities are being enabled?
· Which do we want to help make more real, and which less real?
· What specific effects might be enacted?
· What technologies would we do well to avoid?
Allouche, J.; Middleton C. & Gyawali, D. (2015). Technical veil, hidden politics: Interrogating the power linkages behind the nexus. Water Alternatives 8(1): 610-626.
Carolan, M. (2017). Publicising food: Big data, precision agriculture, and co-experimental techniques of addition. Sociologia Ruralis, 57(2), 135-154.
Carolan, M. & Stuart, D. (2014) Get real: Climate change and all that “It” Entails. Sociologia Ruralis.
Darnhofer, I. (2015). Socio-technical transitions in farming: key concepts. In Transition pathways towards sustainability in European agriculture. Case studies from Europe. L.-A. Sutherland, I. Darnhofer, G.A. Wilson a& L. Zagata (Eds.) CAB International.
Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2006). Postcapitalist Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Gilpin, L., (2015). How Big Data is going to help feed nine billion people by 2050. How Big Data Is Going to Help Feed Nine Billion People by 2050 . http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-big-data-is-going-to-help-feed-9-billion-people-by-2050/
Latour, B. (2000) When things strike back—a possible contribution of science studies to the social sciences. British Journal of Sociology 51 (1) pp. 107–123
Law, J. (2004). After method: Mess in social science research. New York: Routledge.
Law, J. (2008). On sociology and sts. The sociological review, 56(4), 623-649.
Stock, P., M. Carolan & C. Rosin (eds). (2015) Food utopias: reimagining citizenship, ethics and Community. New York; London: Routledge.
Wolf, S. & Buttel, F.H. (1996) The political economy of precision farming. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 78 (5) pp. 1269–1274
Wolf, S. & Wood, S. (1997) Precision farming: environmental legitimation, commodification of information, and industrial coordination. Rural sociology 62 (2) pp. 180–206.
Wolfert, Cor Verdouw, & Bogaardt, (2017). Big Data in smart Farming: A Review. Agricultural Systems 153 (2017) 69–80
Yaghoubi, S. et. al (2013). Autonomous robots for agricultural tasks and farm assignment and future trends in agro robots. International Journal of Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering IJMME-IJENS Vol:13 No:03.