domingo, 14 de agosto

Food, Ethic and Reciprocity

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Coordinator: Prof. Roberto Trentin                                         Academic Profile

For the last four decades, the modern world has brought with it a bewildering succession of agri-food scandals. In the endless series of episodes, a few that stand out are the commercialization of radioactive meat in Japan, the hamburger with horse meat in the United Kingdom, the contamination by Escherichia Coli in Germany or even the adulterations of the UHT milk in Brazil with the addition of urea , formaldehyde and hydrogen peroxide.

Mutations in the world of food clearly reflect not only the nature and extent of the risks to which we are exposed, but the fragility of control institutions and the uncertainties surrounding the expert systems, which have been empowered to ensure the compliance with food safety standards.

From the sphere of consumption we see the sharp perception of individuals in terms of “certainty of uncertainty” and the need to find ways of coexistence and coping with an increasingly challenging scenario. All the current controversy around the world of food fits perfectly within the concept of “society of risk” created by the German sociologist Ulrich Beck.

There are several developments resulting from the perception of risks by the population in general. The first is related to the emergence of new forms of solidarity replacing the traditional forms, which were strongly linked to a group or community. A diffuse solidarity governed by the demand on sustainability around intergenerational goals.

The second consists in the emergence of a new type of consumer who seeks to establish with the sphere of production a new social contract that puts ethics and reciprocity at the center of the process, especially in face-to-face relationships between producers. A consumer who wants to know the origin and the processes underlying the elaboration of what is consumed is gaining prominence, a phenomenon that leads to the emergence of alternative networks and alternative commercial spaces (free trade fairs, shopping groups, etc.) to the great agro-food empires.

Such movement gains strength in developed countries, with which we have been acting through comparative research, doctoral theses, scientific articles and other co-authored products. Guided by the effort to understand these processes, we look forward to continuing the research that currently includes institutions such as: CSIC-IESA and the Universities of Seville (Spain), Cadiz (Spain), Mexico (Mexico) and the University of Calabria, Italy.