Reducing antibiotics to strengthen intensive and industrial livestock farming? AMR and agri-food transitions in the age of Anthropocene
The massive and uncontrolled use of antibiotics, particularly in agriculture, is now considered to be an important factor of the Anthropocene, that is to say the period when human activities pose enormous health and environmental risks to the planet and its living organisms. Faced with such a threat, the livestock farming sector has been urged for several years to drastically reduce its use of antibiotics through a series of public and private measures aimed at promoting a transition to a more sustainable agriculture. The strategies implemented and their effects are therefore particularly interesting to analyse in order to better understand agri-food transitions pathways in the age of Anthropocene, as well as the imaginaries they test.
This seminar proposes a critical reading of different forms of transitions and how they tend to articulate (or not) in the field of livestock farming. Indeed, although reducing antimicrobial use is presented as a way of strengthening sustainability and of flattering agro-ecological utopia, it more often contributes to processes of re-intensification and re-industrialisation which are far from diminishing the human footprint on the planet.
Yet transitions towards alternative agricultures have been observed, but they remain most of the time marginal compared to a global trend which seems to reinforce the dominant forms of the agri-food system. This seminar therefore reflects on the narratives and imaginaries of the AMR crisis and how the latter has become another opportunity to green-wash and perpetuate “business-as-usual” livestock farming practices.
About the speaker
Nicolas Fortané is a senior researcher in sociology at INRAE (French Institute for Agricultural & Environmental Research), based at Paris-Dauphine University, and currently Honorary Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He generally works on animal health policy and the veterinary profession, especially on the regulation of veterinary medicines. His current research projects focus on the construction of the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) public problem, the transformations of farm animal veterinary medicine, the veterinary drug market and the role of farmers and the livestock industry in antimicrobial use regulation.