Tristan Fournier: The politics of nutritional epigenomics. Food-health relationships beyond individual responsibility?

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 11:00 to 12:30
Life Science Building, 3314 - UCLA

The “first thousand days of life” are identified, from a scientific point of view, as a critical window of exposure: what is eaten by parents during the pre-conception period, by women during their pregnancy, and by children during their first two years could influence, by epigenetic process, the future health of individuals. It is on the basis of this knowledge, still fragile, that public awareness campaigns on intrauterine and infant nutrition are emerging worldwide, supported by governments, NGOs as well as foundations arising from agro-food industry. Between public health and private interests, this medical and moral promise spreads out, thus reinforcing the neoliberal logic of self-control, self-monitoring and individual / parental responsibility. I will argue that without an interdisciplinary dialogue, this new postgenomic biopolitics will contribute to a social deregulation of food and a depoliticization of public health issues. Data coming from two fieldworks will be presented: on the social perceptions of nutritional (epi)genomics, and on the development of the “first thousand days of life” initiative.


Tristan Fournier is a research fellow in sociology at the Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Social Issues (IRIS) within the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris (France). His work has mainly focused on eating choices and food changes, and has questioned the status of scientific knowledge as well as the role of the socio-cultural dimensions of food regarding different topics such as chronic pathologies and disorders (obesity, hypercholesterolaemia), aging (Alzheimer’s Disease), and sanitary crisis (H5N1 virus). He currently leads a research program entitled: “Towards a politics of epigenetics. The development of ‘the first thousand days of life’ initiative”.


This event is sponsored by the EpiDaPo Laboratory, a collaboration of UCLA and CNRS.

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