Risk on the Table: Food, Health, and Environmental Exposure
The purity and safety of the food supply is an old issue, for ordinary people, experts, and state authorities. However, the so-called chemo-gastric revolution and the industrialization of agriculture catalyzed a new set of controversies about the risks of food, especially after World War II. Several developments were implicated in these debates, including the reporting of health issues in the media; the proliferation of synthetic chemicals as additives, preservatives, pesticides, drugs, and packaging; the biological selection of newly pathogenic bacteria by use of antibiotics and containment facilities in agriculture; and improved techniques for detecting minute levels of contaminants along with new understandings of health-hazards for low-dose exposure. This workshop will examine the confluence of hazards and concerns that characterize the focus on risk in food, addressing in particular two issues: (1) the impact of industrialization on the nature of food—and how it was perceived, and (2) the changing modes of identifying and objectifying dangers, particularly from the sciences of nutrition and toxicology. We expect the papers to illuminate these larger debates and controversies by considering trajectories of specific nutrients and contaminants, including regulatory responses and their limits.
Angela N.H. Creager
Thomas M. Siebel Professor in the History of Science
Director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center
Please visit our workshop website to register and to learn more.