Accepted Paper:

Cultivating engagement with 'citizens' and 'consumers' - doing a citizen participation forum on vertical farming at a European food innovation consortium  


Mascha Gugganig (University of Ottawa)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses what kind of European citizen and/or consumer is co-produced with a technoscientifically innovated European food system by discussing the EU consortium EIT Food and the social scientist's role in convening a citizen participation forum on vertical farming as part of EIT Food.

Paper long abstract:

In the last decade, The EU's research scheme has emphasized the support and financing of large public-private innovation partnerships, so-called Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). More collaboration between research institutions, universities and industry is to spark more innovative solutions for contemporary (social) problems through its "knowledge triangle" of innovation, education and business creation. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology on food - EIT Food - as the newest KIC has included a fourth pillar, namely Communication. It is aimed towards a more consumer-centric approach that shall allow European citizens to become "change agents" in a healthier, more transparent and sustainable food system.

In this talk, I will discuss the (intended and inadvertent) slippage between citizens as co-creators and consumers as active collaborators at EIT Food, which serves as an example of a large-scale EU-funded public-private food innovation scheme. I will do so as involved social scientist leading an EIT Food Communications project - a citizen participation forum on vertical farming - by sharing preliminary insights from conducting such work in a small research team. By juxtaposing EIT Food's vision of citizen/consumer engagement with my experiences conducting a citizen participation forum, I wish to demonstrate the peculiar co-produced - both imagined and participating - citizens/consumers with 'disruptive' food technologies, in this case vertical farming.

Panel A25
Trouble swallowing? Food, technoscience and publics