Agriculture faces many challenges. In both public discourse and the scientific literature debates about the future are increasing framed in terms of ‘alternative’ versus ‘conventional’ agriculture. In this paper we critically examine this framing, and seek to understand how the term conventional has been and is being used. We argue that the category conventional agriculture has little analytical purchase, and that its use is part of a strategy of homogenising, normalising and othering.
In effect, the term conventional agriculture has been weaponised. This helps explain the sterile and unproductive nature of much debate about future agricultures. A more productive approach is to focus on where and how different farming systems can contribute to the sustainability of agriculture.