Public Funding and Social Shaping of In Vitro Meat
The EPINET workshops held in Utrecht 28 and 29 Oct 2013, were devoted to issues of public funding and the social shaping of in vitro meat. The case study team was able to narrow down and define these issues as central policy concerns that should be discussed and debated over the two days. We gathered the main research actors in Europe, the leading investigators on the ethical and social aspects of IVM, and research policy actors.
We can report both methodological and substantive results. The methodological result is that the EPINET approach works, in the sense that we achieved a constructive dialogue across the epistemic networks, with mutual learning taking place throughout the two days. The substantive result, as we see it, is an explanation for the disconnect we observe between research funding and the IVM research field. We observe that the narratives and imaginaries coming from the IVM research community and some of the TA visions of IVM – in particular the environmental analysis – are 'too thin'. In particular, they do not convincingly address the implications of a transition to IVM foods and food production on an agrifood system level, nor do they address the cultural and experienced aspects of what meat is to people. In spite of appealing arguments of reduced energy and land use of IVM production, and of reduced climate gas emissions, IVM risks being perceived of as impracticable and unappealing from both a producer and consumer point of view. It is therefore particularly interesting to work out in more detail these aspects in order to have a fuller account and appraisal of the future prospects of IVM foods and food production.