[WSMDiscuss] Protein pluralism and food systems transition: A review of sustainable protein meta-narratives

Brian brian at radicalroad.com
Thu Oct 20 18:02:18 CEST 2022


I found the framework and analysis in this paper quite useful. I think it will be of interest to many on this list involved in food movement politics.

~ Brian 
____________________

"This article takes heed of the risks posed to sustainable protein transition brought about by the contested nature of contemporary protein politics, yet it also finds some hope for what may prove to result in a more resilient protein subsystem given its pluralist nature. The article seeks to provide a narrative review of the literature on protein foods across five cross-cutting dimensions of sustainable food systems …. We seek to contribute to ongoing debates in the literature about the trajectory and contradictory nature of sustainable food systems transition by highlighting the need for proponents of different sustainable protein meta-narratives to focus on shared objectives held by those with opposing perspectives, while also constructively engaging their most salient criticisms."

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X22003114?dgcid=author <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X22003114?dgcid=author>
> Protein pluralism and food systems transition: A review of sustainable protein meta-narratives
> 
World Development, Volume 16 / Issue dated January 2023 [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2022.106121 <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2022.106121>]

> by Ryan Katz-Rosenea ; Andrew Heffernanb; Anil Arorac
> Highlights
> 
> • Scholarly and grey literatures regarding protein’s role in food systems transition are reviewed along five core dimensions of sustainability.
> • Three meta-narrative coalitions, each advocating distinct visions of the future of sustainable protein, are identified and defined.
> • Evidence suggests actors within each meta-narrative coalition are actively pursuing material change within food systems at present.
> • While “protein pluralism” holds resilience potential within agri-food sustainability, it also poses challenges for sustainable transition which must be addressed.
> Abstract
> 
> There is a very quickly growing literature regarding the appropriate role of protein foods in sustainable food systems transition. From this literature there has emerged several points of contention and debate. There is, for instance, contestation over:
> 
> - the appropriate balance of plant- and animal- sourced protein foods in feeding the world’s growing population;
> 
> - competing interpretations of the contributions made by plant and animal protein foods to healthy diets and the alleviation of malnutrition;
> 
> - disputes over the welfare of animals and human workers in protein production, as well as over the ethics of genetic manipulation in the production of novel protein food products;
> 
> - environmental debates about the relationships between protein food production <applewebdata://09E95AA9-264B-4A58-ACE8-AF4991B42948/topics/social-sciences/food-production> methods and climate change and biodiversity decline;
> 
> - and finally (though not exhaustively), disagreements about how various populations, economic sectors <applewebdata://09E95AA9-264B-4A58-ACE8-AF4991B42948/topics/social-sciences/economic-sector>, and cultural practices could be impacted by disruptive alternative protein food technologies or new protein-oriented policies introduced in the name of fomenting a sustainable agri-food transition.
> 
> Protein foods are thus deeply implicated in a range of debates about sustainable agri-food systems.
> 
> This article provides a review of the literature on the future of sustainable protein across five core dimensions of sustainable food systems: i) food security; ii) nutrition and health; iii) ethics and welfare; iv) climate change and biodiversity; and v) social, economic, and cultural prosperity.
> 
> Using a similar method of interpretive narrative analysis as that developed by Béné et al. (2019) in World Development, we identify and define three main “meta-narrative coalitions” on protein sustainability and examine their respective proposed solutions along these five dimensions.
> 
> We label and define the three meta-narrative coalitions as i) “Modernizing Protein” (an approach which centers technological innovation as the primary mechanism for achieving sustainability in the global food system); ii) “Reconstituting Protein” (which prioritizes the reduction of animal protein consumption and the introduction of novel protein food products in order to achieve sustainable food system transition); and iii) “Regenerating Protein” (which seeks to restore human-nature relationships within protein production and consumption practices as a means of achieving sustainable development within the global agri-food sector).
> 
> In addition to defining these meta-narrative coalitions and highlighting their core differences, internal disputes, and areas of common ground, we note how all three narrative coalitions are actively seeking to reshape food systems in material ways.
> 
> In conclusion, we argue that the pluralist character of contemporary efforts in sustainable protein transition – wherein the world appears to be simultaneously moving in different directions at once – holds resilience potential, yet it also faces challenges which could hinder sustainable transformation. Our review contributes to ongoing debates in the literature by highlighting the need for proponents of different sustainable protein meta-narratives to work towards shared objectives, and constructively engage criticisms from opposing perspectives.
> 
> Keywords
> 
> Protein; Sustainable development; Food security and nutrition; Animal welfare; Food systems transition
> 
> 1. Introduction
> 
> There is a vast and growing combined scholarly and grey literature on the question of how to transform the protein subsector in order to support a broader transition towards sustainable agri-food systems (for instance, Aiking and de Boer, 2020, Henchion et al., 2017, Ranganathan et al., 2016). From this literature there have emerged several points of contention and debate:
> 
> * There is contestation over the appropriate balance of plant- and animal- sourced protein foods in feeding the world’s growing population (B. C. Johnston et al., 2019, Pan et al., 2012); 
> 
> * there are competing interpretations of the contributions made by plant and animal proteins to healthy diets and the alleviation of malnutrition (Chen et al., 2018, Ede, 2016, Khatibzadeh et al., 2016);
> 
> * ethical disputes over the welfare of animals and human workers in protein production, as well as over the use of genetic manipulation in the production of novel protein food products (Berckmans, 2014, Blaustein-Rejto et al., 2019, Budiansky, 1999);
> 
> * environmental debates about the relationships between protein production methods and climate change and biodiversity decline (Falloon and Betts, 2010, Shepon et al., 2018, Willett et al., 2019); 
> * and finally (though not exhaustively), disagreements about how various populations, economic sectors <applewebdata://09E95AA9-264B-4A58-ACE8-AF4991B42948/topics/social-sciences/economic-sector>, and food cultures could be negatively impacted by disruptive protein food technologies or new protein-focused policies introduced in the name of sustainable agri-food transition (Blomqvist, 2019, Godfray et al., 2018, Waite and Searchinger, 2019).
> 
> The discursive politics of sustainable protein is highly fractured, replete with numerous bold and irreconcilable claims and obfuscations about protein foods (Guthman et al., 2022, IPES Food, 2022, Sexton et al., 2019), which altogether tends to result in stalled progress in sustainable food systems transition (Béné,2022).
> 
> This article takes heed of the risks posed to sustainable protein transition brought about by the contested nature of contemporary protein politics, yet it also finds some hope for what may prove to result in a more resilient protein subsystem given its pluralist nature. The article seeks to provide a narrative review of the literature on protein foods across five cross-cutting dimensions of sustainable food systems (described in greater detail below):
> 
> i) food security;
> 
> ii) nutrition and health;
> 
> iii) ethics and welfare;
> 
> iv) climate change and biodiversity; and
> 
> v) social, economic and cultural prosperity.
> 
> Inspired by a similar interpretive narrative analysis found in Béné et al. (2019), we identify and define three main “meta-narrative coalitions” on protein sustainability, which we call,
> 
> i) “Modernizing Protein” (an approach which centers technological innovation as the primary mechanism for achieving sustainability in the protein subsystem);
> 
> ii) “Reconstituting Protein” (which prioritizes reductions in animal protein consumption and the introduction of novel protein food products in order to address unsustainability in the protein sector); and
> 
> iii) “Regenerating Protein” (which seeks to restore human-nature relationships within protein production and consumption as a means of achieving sustainable development).
> 
> In addition to defining these narrative coalitions, highlighting their core differences and internal disputes, and discussing areas of common ground between them, we provide evidence that stakeholders within the three meta-narrative coalitions are actively seeking to reshape global food systems in material ways.
> 
> In conclusion, we argue, drawing from Leach et al.’s (2020) embrace of multiple pathways in the pursuit of dynamic sustainability, that the pluralist character of contemporary sustainable protein transition holds potential for increasing resilience in the agri-food system, though it also faces challenges which could hinder sustainable transformation (such as corporate co-optation and control; infighting and ideological determinism <applewebdata://09E95AA9-264B-4A58-ACE8-AF4991B42948/topics/social-sciences/determinism>; and policy incoherence, as implied by Béné, 2022).
> 
> We seek to contribute to ongoing debates in the literature about the trajectory and contradictory nature of sustainable food systems transition by highlighting the need for proponents of different sustainable protein meta-narratives to focus on shared objectives held by those with opposing perspectives, while also constructively engaging their most salient criticisms.
> 
Read more: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X22003114?dgcid=author <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X22003114?dgcid=author>

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Blog: https://murphyslog.ca
Twitter:  @BrianKMurphy2 







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