La revue Viandes et produits carnés

La revue française de la recherche en viandes et produits carnés  ISSN  2555-8560

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Agriculture, Livestock and the Anthropocene

How are we going to eat tomorrow and who will produce our food?

This question may seem preposterous for many Westerners who have access to abundant, varied food at moderate prices. An event of considerable magnitude weakens this ease of access as we have known it for 50 years: the Anthropocene. We have entered a new geological era that greatly destabilizes our agriculture and forces us to fundamentally reinvent the way our food systems work, from the production of raw materials to their consumption. This book offers an unprecedented framework of analysis which makes it possible to understand why the trajectory that we are currently pursuing in terms of agriculture and animal husbandry can in no way suit the very specific context of the Anthropocene. It also makes reform proposals to support the trajectory of regenerative agriculture and sustainable breeding.

What do the French think about cultured muscle cells to produce meat?

Opinions, perception and attitudes of French consumers regarding the new biotechnology aimed at producing meat from cultured muscle.

This research aimed to study consumer perception of “cultured meat”, which is the subject of scientific questions despite media enthusiasm. For this, an internet survey in French on Google Forms was distributed on social networks. The sampling of respondents, although very substantial (4,533 responses), slightly differs from the average characteristics of the French population by an over-representation of young people between 18 and 30 years of age (42.7%), of people familiar with the meat sector (28.0%) or scientists (52.6%). About 40 to 50% of the respondents believe that livestock face ethical and environmental issues. However, only 18% to 26% of them believe that “artificial meat” can solve these difficulties and a majority thinks that artificial meat will not be as healthy and tasty as conventional meat. In addition, between 41.5% and 66.7% of the respondents, according to different demographics, consider that “cultured meat” is an “absurd and/or disgusting” idea, 26.9% on average an “intriguing and/or funny” idea, and 18.7% a “promising and/or feasible” idea. On average, 91.7% of the respondents would not like to buy “artificial meat” at a higher price than conventional meat, with only 25.6% being ready to pay for it at the same price. Respondents who are unfamiliar with “artificial meat”, or young people (between 18 and 30 years of age) especially women, seem more favorable towards this biotechnology because of a greater sensitivity to ethical or environmental questions related to animal husbandry. On the contrary, older men (more than 51 years of age) are the most reluctant. Unlike in previous work, people who have heard of “artificial meat” do not seem to accept it more. In addition, meat professionals are generally strongly opposed to it. According to this survey, the “artificial meat” market would represent at best a niche market targeting about a fifth of the French population, while another fifth of the respondents believes that “artificial meat” has no future. About half of the respondents, however, consider this innovation to be “absurd and/or disgusting” rather than “intriguing and/or funny”, or, to a lower extent “promising and/or achievable”.

Contamination in meat imaginaries: Part II: perspectives.

Crossed views on the imaginations and practices of production and consumption.

As a follow-up of the previous article, this contribution explores the advertised messages surrounding meat, providing the opinions and reactions of breeders and meat-eaters that follow. The messages published by professionals of the meat production sector are part of the tradition that respects origin and gastronomic values while continuing along the path of a greener diet, which has been underway for several decades. The sector is confronted with new actors who try to renew this imagination: in search of purity and ethics, the entrants proceed according to a subtractive logic (products labeled without animal products, gluten free….) while diverting the symbolism of meats, the famous blood mythology, to the benefit of plants in particular. It is precisely this symbolism that displays animals in pastures, the butcher artisan and grilled meat on one’s plate that in France, join breeders and consumers. They point to industrial transformation processes and marketing practices that are a source of mistrust, each in their own way and according to their knowledge and interests. Faced with this situation, proposals have been made to place meat back in the center as a service to life, both from the point of view of words describing meat and the practices of the sector.

Contamination in meat imagination: evolution and perspectives.

Several works in language sciences including a recent conference in June 2019, (Viande (s). Semiotic stereotypes and cultural concerns) have underlined the polysemy of the word meat and the vicissitudes that the concept has known over time from flesh to meat. By focusing on the last two decades, this article aims to bring to light the main components of the territory of expression of meats. It is also about taking a step back from the symbolic struggle, as much as economic and regulatory, engaged over the use of the word meat and its associated formulations. At the center of the discussion, we have mainly considered red meat because it remains the symbolic body from which media debates are organized. New designations are emerging (synthetic meat, clean meat, ...) indicating that a process of artificialization is underway, going so far as to postulate a "beyond meat" (Beyond Meat). This movement upsets the traditional hierarchy between meat products and plants, a classification that the French language with its expressions on vegetables and meats has largely contributed to building. At the same time, a trend has been at work for several decades in the speeches of operators in the sector: the revegetation of animals and meat. In this context, is the last campaign of the interprofession: “naturally flexitarian”. We will see how this orientation marks a continuity / rupture with respect to the previous strategy of professionals and we will compare it with the different advertising discourse of companies. This article therefore offers a crossed look at the course and future of meat, the word and the dish it designates. Food with its symbolic and social meanings is treated in relation to production and consumption practices. The objective is to position the different discursive strategies that are playing out on the meat theater stage and to identify the perspectives and needs for the future.

Reference levels in livestock farming systems: keys to identify the impacts of husbandry (opinion paper)

Baseline use is common in a variety of academic disciplines, including environmental science, but they are subject to relativity depending on the geographical or historical reference considered. The measurement of livestock effects on climate change has, however, disregarded the use of baselines. Greenhouse gas emissions are not put into an ecological context. Grass-fed ruminant systems are hence in the spotlight because of high methane emissions, and conversion into intensive, grain-fed chicken and pork systems is recommended. We reviewed the existing literature on baseline greenhouse gas emissions by wild ruminants, also considering the potential of termites, in filling herbivore niches in an ungulate-free scenario. Natural baseline scenarios would be of the same order of magnitude as current livestock scenarios. Current policy recommendations on livestock sector changes are hence likely to be much less effective than currently thought. Similar considerations can be applied to the impact of livestock on water or biodiversity. Policy recommendations should take baseline levels into account, concentrate on reducing intensive use of fossil fuel and focus on methane reduction with social outcomes, such as the use of manure-fed biogas cooking stoves.

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