Hugh Campbell – Social Scientific Approaches to Understanding New Bio-Economies
In an era of increased financialisation of agro-commodities and declining farm incomes from traditional sources, there has been considerable attention given by governments, companies and science institutions to opportunities to generate increased value from agricultural regions through the development of new ‘bio-economies’. Based around finding new science applications, new Intellectual Property of genetic material, biofuels and other non-traditional utilisation of agricultural products, bio-economies are seen by some as a way of finding both new value-chains for agricultural regions and new relevance for agricultural scientists. This talk will examine two key examples of ‘bio-economy’ development that both have unexpected outcomes. One is in New Zealand where the period between 1998-2003 saw a major re-orientation of agricultural science towards new genomic technologies before this initiative largely proved less dynamic than hoped. The second is the emerging politics of food waste which has recently become a major concern and is challenging the traditional framing of a number of areas of policy around environment and sustainability. In both these cases the outcomes were unexpected and failed to line up with traditional policy frameworks for understanding the operation of bio-economies. This talk will conclude with a discussion of why social scientific approaches might have helped better understand the limitations or transformations that were happening in these two areas.