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Animals as Biotechnology: Critical Animal Studies

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Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies

By Dr. Richard Twine

Published by Earthscan, August 20th 2010

Many thanks for taking an interest in my new book. Here I provide a brief sketch of its main themes. Perhaps my primary hope in its publication is that it inspires more work from within cognate academic and non-academic spaces that will further examine both animal biotechnology and the global meat and dairy industry.

Animals as Biotechnology simmers along to a culmination in a critical examination of the vital intersections between human/animal relations, climate change and a questioning of economic growth, although there are various equally significant sub-plots along the way. Whilst I hope that this can be an important contribution to the literature that foregrounds changes to human/animal relations as integral to addressing climate change there is much more here besides.

The book was inspired by initial interest and research into the various animal sciences that surround the commodification of farmed animals into food. It was also motivated by a relative gap in the (animal studies) literature pertaining to animal biotechnology. Specifically I was (am) intrigued by the parallel emergence of scientific and corporate excitement around the new genomics of such commodification alongside the rather antithetical academic interest from interdisciplinary (critical) animal studies in the subjectification of nonhuman animals. In a general sense the molecularization of animal breeding (the transition to using genomic knowledge, cloning and perhaps GM) potentially offers increased control over farmed species and is being cast in an important role in the so called ‘livestock revolution’ – a forecasted doubling of meat/dairy production between now and 2050. This is happening at the very same time that many cultures have begun to engage in a sociological and philosophical re-evaluation of the politics and ethics of human/animal relations. Yet, I argue that this particular take on animal biotech jars not only with such critical reflexive knowledge but as much with the science knowledge base from animal welfare, public health, nutritional and climate science.

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