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Australia - “Don’t mince words”: analysis of problematizations in Australian alternative protein regulatory debates


Jan 19, 2024

Alternative proteins, including plant-based and cell-based meat and dairy analogues, are discursively positioned as a new form of meat and dairy and as a solution to the myriad of issues associated with conventional animal agriculture. Animal agricultural industries across various nations have resisted this positioning in regulatory spaces by advocating for laws that restrict the use of meat and dairy terms on the labels of alternative proteins products. Underlying this contestation are differing understandings of, and vested interests in, desirable futures for animal agriculture. In Australia, this broader contestation led to a national-level inquiry by a Senate parliamentary committee entitled Definitions of meat and other animal products (the Inquiry). This paper reports findings from a study of the problematizations developed through the Inquiry using a framework for policy discourse analysis referred to as Bacchi’s ‘What’s the Problem Represented to be’ methodology. It shows how the dominant discourse throughout the Inquiry moved away from the initial problematization of alternative proteins as a threat to animal agriculture. Instead, both industries were ultimately positioned as not in competition and only labelling laws were problematized with the solution being amendments to ensure ‘consumer clarity’. This outcome ignored a range of alternative problematizations related to the ethical, environmental, health, social and economic issues raised by animal agriculture and by alternative proteins. This lack of scrutiny benefits both industries, by closing off the policy discourse to consideration of a range of alternative interests, voices, and potential solutions, such as stricter health and welfare regulation.


Author(s):  Johnson, H., Parker, C. & Evans, B

Published in: Agric Hum Values


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