Indoor Vertical Farming: Food Security Promises, Technical Realities, and Policy Approaches

Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue Project on AI for Healthy Humans and Environments at the AI + Society Initiative presents,
in collaboration with the Centre for Law, Technology and Society, the Institute for Science, Society and Policy and the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics:


Indoor Vertical Farming 

Food Security Promises, Technical Realities and Policy Approaches  


Tara Jodoin, Thomas Graham & Mascha Gugganig 

in conversation with Kelly Bronson


Tuesday, January 18, 2022
at 11:30 ET


Watch The Video Now


Join us for a conversation on food security promises, technical realities and policy approaches for indoor vertical farming. 

Indoor vertical farming has experienced considerable attention in the last years for its ability to reduce water use, be space-efficient (especially for cities), and to produce food without pesticides and independent of climatic conditions. For this nascent industry, venture capital generates large amounts of investment that also feeds a vision of vertical farming as high-tech food production system capable of ‘feeding the world.’ Concurrently, engineers and technology developers continue to improve technical systems of controlled environment agriculture (CEA).  Policy makers have likewise turned to the question how to govern these systems. This panel provides insights from social science research, technology development, as well as policy perspectives to discuss the hopes and the realities of indoor vertical farming.  


About the Speakers 

Tara Jodoin is a policy analyst within the Innovation and Growth Policy Division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Strategic Policy Branch. She works with a team of analysts who focus on the socio-economic impacts of new and emerging technologies like precision, cellular, and controlled environment agriculture to determine their effects on farmers, consumers, competitiveness, and the environment. Over the past 10 years, Tara Jodoin has worked in the federal government on projects focused on science policy, international relations, and science computing. She holds a Bachelor (Hons) of Mass Communication degree from the Faculty of Public Affairs at Carleton University. 

Dr. Thomas Graham is an Assistant Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences, holds the PhytoGro Research Chair in Controlled Environment Systems at the University of Guelph. He completed a prestigious Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and returned to UoG where he continues to develop a broad-based, interdisciplinary controlled environment agriculture (CEA) research and teaching program.  His research activities encompass many international and domestic collaborations covering such topics as bioregenerative life support for human space exploration, northern and remote community food insecurity, high intensity urban and peri-urban agriculture, medical crop migration and standardization, CEA water remediation, and plant-environment interactions and optimization.  Dr. Graham is also active in STEM outreach activities through such programs as TomatosphereTM, and he sits on several journal editorial boards and is an active peer reviewer. 

Dr. Mascha Gugganig is the Alex Trebek Postdoctoral Fellow in AI and Environment at the University of Ottawa AI + Society Initiative. As anthropologist and science & technology studies (STS) scholar, her work looks at controversial technologies in food production, and how actors both construct and question nature-technology binaries in practice and discourses of high and (s)low-tech farming. In the case of indoor vertical farming, she studies sociotechnical vanguards’ problem framing to legimitize this high-tech urban food production system. Dr. Gugganig also designs and deploys arts-based research methods, and as a curator, she currently plans the symposium and exhibition “The Smartification of Everything” at the University of Ottawa.



Alexandre Lillo is a postdoctoral researcher with the Public Law Centre and the Forum on Water Law and Governance at the University of Ottawa. He holds a Ph.D. in law (2020) completed under a partnership between the University of Ottawa and the University of Montpellier (France). His doctoral dissertation received the Paris Bar Association Medal for the best doctoral dissertation in law written in French. Alexandre has published several articles on issues related to Canadian water management, environmental governance, and the legal personality of nature. He served as the Assistant Director of the Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability in 2020. He is currently the co-holder of a Research Chair in Teaching Innovation at the University of Ottawa’s Civil Law Section and a part-time professor at the University of Ottawa. 


This event will be in English only.
This event will be recorded.

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