Brewster Kneen was born in Ohio and studied economics and theology in the U.S. and the U.K. before moving to Toronto in 1965. There he produced public affairs programs for CBC Radio, and worked as a consultant to the churches on issues of social and economic justice. In 1971, with his wife Cathleen and their children Jamie and Rebecca, he moved to Nova Scotia, where they farmed until 1986, starting with a cow-calf operation and then developing a large commercial sheep farm.
For many years Brewster was secretary of the Sheep Producers Association of Nova Scotia and in the early 1980s he organized the Northumberland Lamb Marketing Co-operative (Northumberlamb) and the Brookside Abattoir Co-operative, both farmer owned and operated. In 1980, the Kneens started publishing The Ram's Horn.
In 1986 the Kneens returned to Toronto and Brewster began his career of writing and lecturing on the food system, with increasing attention to biotechnology. He received two grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council as an Independent Scholar for research into 'technological determinism' and in 1994-5 he was a Senior Fellow of the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. Brewster was also a founding member of the Toronto Food Policy Council. During this time he wrote his first four books.
The Kneens lived in British Columbia from 1995 to 2006, first in Mission in the Fraser Valley and then at Left Fields (the farm operated by Rebecca Kneen and Brian MacIsaac) in Sorrento in the Shuswap. During this period Brewster wrote Farmageddon and Invisible Giant, 2nd edition, and engaged in public education and organizing, helping form the BC Biotechnology Circle and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN). In 2006 the Kneens moved east to a more accessible location, Ottawa, where Brewster's bicycle replaces the automobile much of the time.
Much of his current focus is on the cultural and ideological underpinnings of public and political life. This is reflected in his 2009 book, The Tyranny of Rights. After several years of reflection on the relationship between these elements and his own life experience, he wrote a "political-theological memoir", Journey of an Unrepentant Socialist, which was published by The Ram's Horn in November, 2014.
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