Christian Schnurr wins the GAIA Masters Student Paper Award 2021

The peer-reviewed journal GAIA – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society yearly gives out the GAIA Master Student Paper Award to honor the best research papers of master’s students. The area of interest is the interdisciplinary analysis of environmental or sustainability issues.

Christian Schnurr could win the shared first prize for his work on Natural Substances in the Age of their Technical Reproducibility. Schnurr talks about the fact that the molecular composition of more and more natural products is decoded and can therefore be synthetically reproduced. A well-known example is the synthetic production of fruit aroma (strawberry yoghurt without strawberries), or nowadays the discussion about ‘artificial meat’. At the TUM School of Life Sciences especially the Chair for Molecular Sensorics deals with this topic.

The public opinion of technically reproduced foods is to a large part negative. Opinions like “I prefer natural over artificial” or “I don’t trust lab food” hinder the marketing of these products. At the same time, ‘natural’ or ‘unfamiliar’ are concepts that reach beyond a scientific evaluation and complicate discourse about these issues.

Schnurr claims that the discussion about ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ food products should be viewed from an aesthetic point. Art theory has known questions about the technical reproduction of artworks for over a decade and therefore could give useful insights for the discussion about the technical reproduction of foods. Especially Walter Benjamin’s essay The Artwork in the Age of its Mechanical Reproducibility gives a good point to start from.

Schnurr's work will be published in the near future in the journal GAIA.