Some recent writings

A few pieces I've put out in the last week or two:

1) In Defense of Frankenfoods.  Milken Institute Review.  An excerpt:

While it is possible to be pro-biotechnology without being pro-Monsanto, such a nuanced position is difficult to maintain in the current atmosphere. It seems that many suffer from what might be called Monsanto Derangement Syndrome, buying into all sorts of conspiracy theories. Yet genetically engineered foods are no more synonymous with Monsanto than hamburgers are with McDonald’s. When anti-Monsanto became de facto anti-biotechnology, many left-leaning commentators chose to swim with the tide. Thus emerged a (justifiable) belief that many on the left were anti-science on the issue of biotechnology. In the words of journalist Keith Kloor (writing for Slate), opponents of genetically engineered food “are the climate skeptics of the left.” Although there is some truth to this observation, the political reality is more complex.

2) Consumer Acceptance of Controversial New Food Technologies: Causes and Roots of Controversies with Jutta Roosen and Andrea Bieberstein in Annual Review of Resource Economics. An excerpt: 

The dread/control framework may partly explain aversion to new food technologies, particularly in our modern society. In most developed countries, only a very small fraction of the population makes a living by farming. That many consumers today have little connection to and knowledge of modern production agriculture means that new practices adopted by farmers are likely to seem foreign, unknown, and—from the consumer’s perspective—uncontrollable (Campbell & Fitzgerald 2001, Gupta et al. 2011). It has been argued that many consumers have a “romantic” notion of farming (Thompson 1993) and that agricultural literacy is “too low” in the population (Pope 1990). Empirical research suggests that agricultural literacy is loweramong urban children than among rural children (Frick et al. 1995). Thus, when consumers become aware of a new technology—e.g., lean, fine-textured beef or Roundup Ready soybeans—it may be interpreted as a signal of dread and of unknown risk, which Slovic (1987) argues is most aversive and prone to
elicit public panic.

3) New Tool (FooDS) Identifies Consumers' Views on Food Safety with Susan Murray in Choices.  An excerpt:

Figure 4 plots the FooDS price expectations index for beef, pork, and chicken against the same-month price data from the BLS on ground chuck, all pork chops, and boneless chicken breasts. For the first two meats, the correlations—a statistical measure of association, with 1.00 being a perfect correlation—between price expectations and actual prices are 0.72 and 0.83, showing a high correspondence between consumer expectations and actual prices. The correlation for chicken, however, was only -0.26. This latter result likely arises because actual prices for beef and chicken have trended up over this time period while chicken prices have not. However, consumers do not differentiate much between meat categories in their price expectations; the correlations among price expectations for beef, pork, and chicken are all above 0.89.