Kosher Biotech

Between Religion, Regulation, and Globalization

in Religion and Society

ABSTRACT

The Hebrew term ‘kosher’ means ‘fit’ or ‘proper’ and signifies foods conforming to Jewish dietary law (kashrut). Kosher biotechnical production is subject to elaborate rules that have warranted regulation over the last two decades. This article shows how kosher regulation works in biotech production. I argue that while existing studies of kosher production and regulation have emerged mostly from within business studies and the food sciences, the broader institutional picture and the personal relationships between certifiers and businesses that frame these procedures are not yet well understood. Based on empirical research and interaction with biotech companies, I provide an ethnography of how transnational governmentality warrants a product as ‘kosher’ and thereby helps to format and standardize the market. This article builds mainly on fieldwork conducted at the world’s largest producer of enzymes, Novozymes, based in Denmark, which is certified by the leading global kosher certifier, the Orthodox Union.

Contributor Notes

JOHAN FISCHER is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University, Denmark. His work focuses on modern religion and markets. He is the author of Proper Islamic Consumption: Shopping among the Malays in Modern Malaysia (2008), The Halal Frontier: Muslim Consumers in a Globalized Market (2011), and Islam, Standards, and Technoscience: In Global Halal Zones (2015). He is the co-author, with John Lever, of two books: Religion, Regulation, Consumption: Globalising Kosher and Halal Markets (2018) and Kosher and Halal Business Compliance (2018). He has also published articles in journals and edited volumes. E-mail: johanf@ruc.dk

Religion and Society

Advances in Research

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Figures

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    Product name and batch/serial number on a specific Novozymes product

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