Animal geographies, history and philosophy of science, embodiments, animal farming and consumption, animal welfare.
The Enviropig effects. Geographies of science study of biotechnological innovation enactments in animal farming
Primary Supervisor: Dr Mara Miele
Secondary Supervisor: Dr Chris Bear
Starting Date: January 2013
Completion Date: January 2017
Karolina Rucinska is a PhD student and a research assistant at Cardiff University. As a PhD researcher she looks at the creation of the first GM farm animal intended for human consumption and environmental protection - the Enviropig - to analyse the role of biotechnological innovations and scientific expertise performed in the laboratories for animal farming. Previously, in her MSc thesis, informed by STS literature of embodied knowing, she explored public understanding of the Enviropig in a focus group setting. Her thesis was presented at the annual 4S Conference in Copenhagen 2012.
She has completed various projects concerned with implementation of farm animal welfare legislation in the UK.
- MSc Sustainability, Planning and Environmental Policy at Cardiff University, Wales, UK (2011)
- BA Tourism Management, Dublin Institute of Technology and University of Glamorgan, Republic of Ireland, UK (2010) with an Erasmus study visit to Sant Ignasi, Barcelona
2013: Research Assistant during Work Package 2.1 to Dr Mara Miele on 'EUWelNetâ' for the European Commission (SANCO 2012/10293).
2012 - 2014: Research Assistant to Dr. Mara Miele on 'Assessment of the application of the EU 2010 directive on meat chickens welfare'. DEFRA funded project, (with Bristol and Reading Universities).
2012: Research assistant to Dr. Mara Miele on 'The halal meat market in Wales, potentials and barriers', Welsh Government funded project, June- September, 2012 'Report on Halal Slaughter Practices in Wales' (2013) by Mara Miele, Karolina Rucinska, Haluk Anil.
September 2010 - October 2012: Research assistant to Dr. Peter Feindt on 'Biopatenting and animal breeding - applicability of patent law and recommendations for the future development of the regulatory and legislative framework'. Research project in Cooperation with University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt and Technical University Munich. Funded by the German Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food. Co-PI.
This research asks what is the role of biotechnological innovations in shaping human- nonhuman animal relations in the case of farming and how they are affecting the understanding of environmental sustainability of animal farming.
This research project is placed within the context of the rise in biotechnological innovations in animal farming. It focuses on the example of the Enviropig - the name given to a new generation of pigs developed through transgenic techniques at the Guelph University, and approved for production under strict conditions in Canada - that aims to reduce phosphorus pollution and production costs whilst remaining edible by consumers. This research project aims to explore the origins of the Enviropig, as an example of a genetic advancements in livestock (Morris and Holloway, 2009), to discuss controversies surrounding it and understand its possible implications for animal farming. Ultimately it aims to provide a comprehensive study of a technology, which enables intensification of livestock through genetics while promising environmental sustainability, in order to influence an international agricultural policy.
Methods and critical approach
My approach to the analysis of the biotechnological innovations in animal farming is based on insights from Science Technology and Society (STS) and more specifically material semiotic and actor-network-theory (ANT) approaches (Haraway, 2007, Latour 2003, 2005) and animal geography, especially the theoretical framework ‘more-than-human’ proposed by Sarah Whatmore (2002), Steve Hinchliffe, 2007, Mara Miele, 2011 and Gail Davies, 2013 among others. This approach focuses on social practices and by displacing the human as the sole ‘social actor’ endowed with agency argues that the larger material and semiotic world(s) are shaping each other. I intend to trace the complex relations that contributed to the realization of the Enviropig, the first transgenic farm animal, by attending to the participation of the farm animals, the laboratories, the scientists, the NGOs as well as the policy makers, and farmers in Canada through a combination of participant observations and in depth interviews.
My interest in this area and the contribution you hope to make
My MSc thesis addressed the public acceptability of biotechnological innovations with specific reference to transgenic farm animals. Now, with my PhD project I aim to provide an original contribution to Animal Geography and enrich Science, Technology and Society studies (STS) by researching farm animal biotechnologies currently under-examined in these two fields of academic knowledge. In thinking about the rise of biotechnological innovations in livestock there is a relatively low interest of this rise in critical literature. Unlike the existing literature (with few notable exceptions) centred on biotechnology’s economic; environmental, ethical impacts; my research focuses on a specific area i.e. human-animal-technology relationship. Building on the works of geographers and sociologists of science my research emphasises that understanding of this relationship comprehensively is crucial to policy makers; farmers and general public in deciding on the future of animal farming. In so doing my research will have policy recommendations i.e. how to assess novel animal biotechnologies and how to foster science-policy-public dialogue.
Miele, M. and Rucinska, K. (2015) Producing Halal Meat: the Case of Halal Slaughter Practices in Wales, UK, in Emel and Neo (ed.) (2015) Political Ecologies of Meat (Routledge Studies in Political), Routledge
Miele, M., Rucinska, K. and Anil, H (2013) Halal Slaughter Practices in Wales. (Click here to access report)
Rucinska, K. (2015) A review of In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World, by Judith Carney and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff, International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, Vol 22, Issue 1. (Click here to access review)
Sophie Davies, Karolina Rucinska and Gareth Thomas (2012)The House of Beasts Symposium: Enquiries into the human and the animal Humanimalia, Vol 4, No1. Special Section: House of Beasts.
Conference and Workshops Papers
“Past-Present-Futures of Porcine-Human relationship. The case of the Enviropig and the question of the role of biotechnology in shaping this relationship” at The International Conference of Historical Geographers, London, July 2015
“Greening the animal: the case of the Enviropig” at Stream Plenary and Special Session of The British Sociological Association Conference, Glasgow, April 2015
“Love your GM “monster” at Symposium: Spaces of Attunement: Life, Matter & the Dance of En[KR1] counters, Cardiff, March 2015
“Let’s talk about a transgenic farm animal – the Enviropig. STS in a conversation with Animal Geography” presented at STS Conference in Sheffield UK, 2nd December 2013.
“Porcine history of domestication” presented at School of Geography and Planning PhD Away Day, May, 2013.
“The Enviropig effects: an STS study of biotechnological innovation enactments in animal farming” presented at Welsh Human Geography Postgraduate Conference, March, 2013.
“Enviropig - a greener food for the future? Ambivalence and entrapment in the public perception of transgenic modification of pigs” Presented at Society for Social Studies of Science and European Association for the Study of Science and Technology, Annual Meeting 2012 in Copenhagen with Dr. Mara Miele.