This paper reports the results of a survey of the teaching of courses in agriculturalhistory in the seventy-four Land Grant institutions in the United States and its territories. It concludes with the expression of concern that the subject matter, agriculturalhistory, is nearly a dying field, and only heroic measures will succeed in rescuing it.
Multiplicity and continual change characterize the Peruvian agricultural knowledge and information system (AKIS), reflecting changes in the agricultural sector as a whole. The evolution of these changes can be traced back to the pre-Columbian era when a relatively stable and well-organized system based on indigenous knowledge prevailed. During colonial (1532–1821) and early Republican times (beginning 1821) several changes affecting the agricultural sector contributed to a weakening of indigenous knowledge systems. During the 20th century extension services provided by (...) the government and a variety of private organizations began to play an important role in the dissemination of information, albeit in an erratic way. Since the 1970s the system increased in complexity with the emergence of non-governmental institutions. Today government participation is limited and there is a more important participation by a number of NGOs and private organizations. This diversity of actors using different approaches has generated disarray in the information system owing to the lack of coherent policies to guide the interaction among actors. This paper uses the case of potato pest control-related information to illustrate changes in local knowledge systems. It differentiates pest control based on indigenous knowledge, chemical control, and integrated pest management (IPM) and explains how changes in the system have influenced the use of these three types of information in AKIS. Currently, the coexistence of different types of potato pest control information promoted and used by diverse and usually unconnected sets of organizations and individuals presents a challenge and requires inter-institutional action guided by clear policies to promote sustainable agriculture. (shrink)
This book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date one-volume history of American technology from the pre-colonial period to the present day. Cowan writes clearly. Each chapter has a clear take-home message illustrated and amplified with straightforward, easily understood examples.
This article takes as its point of departure a small piece of evidence: a single-line entry in a seventeenth-century Essex Sessions Roll about the theft of milk. This fragment of the legal archive and the world it offers us a glimpse of are used to explore what it might mean to take seriously the presence of animals as historical actors. The article also—and inseparably—asks us to think about the nature of that being called the human that so frequently goes without (...) comment in historical scholarship. Using work from historiography, sensory history, social history, anthropology, and contemporary animal science, the article proposes that introducing animals as actors and not just as objects into historical work will not only broaden and deepen what we might know about the past, it will also challenge some assumptions as to what the focus of our discipline might be. (shrink)
Debates over the future of agriculture in North Americaestablish a dialectical opposition between conventional,industrial agriculture and alternative, sustainable agriculture.This opposition has roots that extend back to the 18th century inthe United States, but the debate has taken a number ofsurprising turns in the 20th century. Originally articulated as aphilosophy of the left, industrial agriculture has utilitarianmoral foundations. In the US and Canada, the articulation of analternative to industrial agriculture has drawn upon threecentral themes: the belief that agriculture is, in some (...) way, tiedto democracy; the belief that complex bureaucratic organizationsare inherently opposed to human interests; and the belief thatthe family farms characteristic of 19th century North Americatend to produce people of superior moral character. It has proveddifficult to weave these themes into a coherent vision ofagriculture for the 21st century. Often, risk and health-basedconcerns are the basis for public criticism of conventionalagriculture, but these do not conflict with the utilitarianorientation of the industrial model, and are easily incorporatedinto it. If there is to be a philosophical debate over the futureof agriculture, we must find some way to rehabilitate thequasi-Aristotelean view of agriculture that emerges from thethree critical themes noted above. (shrink)
The physiology of plant hormones was one of the most dynamic fields in experimental biology in the 1930s, and an important part of T. H. Morgan's influential life science division at the California Institute of Technology. I describe one episode of plant physiology research at the institution in which faculty member James Bonner discovered that the B vitamin thiamin is a plant growth regulator, and then worked in close collaboration with the Merck pharmaceutical firm to develop it as a growth-boosting (...) agrichemical. This episode allows one to draw continuities between certain fields of life science in the United States circa 1940 and the biotechnology industry today, and also foregrounds a number of similarities between plant physiology of the late 1930s and the molecular biology of the period. (shrink)
The challenge of pursuing sustainability in agriculture is often viewed as mainly or wholly technical in nature, requiring the reform of farming methods and the development and adoption of alternative technologies. Likewise, the purpose of sustainability is frequently cast in utilitarian terms, as a means of protecting a valuable resource (i.e., soil) and of satisfying market demands for healthy, tasty food. Paul B. Thompson has argued that the embrace of these views by many in the consumer/environmental movement enables easy co-optation (...) by agribusiness. It also reflects a critical weakness in this movement: a lack of commitment to philosophical principles that depart from the utilitarian premises of the industrial model of agriculture. This paper draws on the writings of Thomas Berry and Liberty Hyde Bailey to identify the philosophical principles of what we call planetary agrarianism. From the perspective of planetary agrarianism, the pursuit of sustainability is a broad and challenging moral, educational, and political task. Berry helps us see that it is fundamentally a project of worldview transition, which requires a new cultural narrative that must rival, in form and appeal, the mythic power of the utilitarian industrial vision. Liberty Hyde Bailey, author of The Holy Earth (1915) and a leader in the land-grant education and nature-study movements, took up the project of worldview transition in his life work. While in some ways dated and flawed, Bailey’s writings are a valuable source of guidance for developing and pursuing a viable philosophy of agriculture for the 21st century. (shrink)
Southern Appalachia is unique among agroecological regions of the American South because of the diverse environmental conditions caused by its mountain ecology, the geographic and commercial isolation of the region, and the relative cultural autonomy of the people that live there. Those three criteria, combined with a rich agriculturalhistory and the continuance of the homegardening tradition, make southern Appalachia an area of relatively high crop biodiversity in America. This study investigated the history and survival of traditional (...) heirloom vegetable crops in western North Carolina and documented 134 heirloom varieties that were still being grown. I conducted interviews with 26 individuals from 12 counties in western North Carolina. I used a snowball sampling method to identify individuals or communities that maintained heirloom vegetable varieties, and used the “memory banking” of farmers’ knowledge as a strategy to complement the gathering of seed specimens. Most of the varieties were grown and saved by homegardeners; beans were the most numerous. Results indicate that usually only one or two individuals in a community maintained significant numbers of heirloom varieties and that many communities have lost their heirloom vegetable heritage altogether. The decline of the farming population combined with a lack of cultural continuance in family seed-saving traditions threatens the ability of communities to maintain crop biodiversity. Some of the cultivars may represent the last (small) populations of endangered varieties. (shrink)
When the Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT late in 1972, environmentalists hailed the decision. Indeed, the DDT ban became a symbol of the power of environmental activism in America. Since the ban, several species that were decimated by the effects of DDT have significantly recovered, including bald eagles, peregrines, ospreys, and brown pelicans. Yet a careful reading of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring reveals DDT to be but one of hundreds of chemicals in thousands of formulations. Carson called for a reduction (...) in the use of all chemical insecticides. Carson’s recommendations notwithstanding, policymakers focused on DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons, culminating in the DDT ban, passage of the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act of 1972, and subsequent bans on aldrin and dieldrin. Similarly, the history of pesticides has focused inordinately on DDT, providing a myopic image of the ongoing challenges of pesticides in agricultural practice and ongoing environmental protection efforts in the modern world. “Pesticides and the perils of synecdoche” argues that focusing on DDT oversimplified the environmental risks of chemical insecticides and narrowed the parameters of the debate, and in the process both policy and subsequent histories neglected the highly toxic organophosphate insecticides, which dominated agriculture in the United States and the world after the DDT ban, with unintended consequences for farmworkers and wildlife. (shrink)
Introduction to the Special Issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics from EURSAFE 2010 Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s10806-012-9390-2 Authors Leire Escajedo San-Epifanio, Department of Constitutional Law and History of Political Thought, Faculty of Social Sciences and Communication, University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain Mickey Gjerris, Faculty of Science, Institute of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN (...) 1187-7863. (shrink)
English people have long been renowned for their obsession with the weather: Francis Bacon chose to write about the wind for the first installment of his natural history. Place is central to Vladimir Janković's analysis, so it is highly appropriate that he should focus on England to study the prehistory of quantitative meteorology. Janković's major innovation is to argue that local interests in recording strange weather conditions later became converted into the global concerns of nineteenth‐century scientists. Before then, he (...) maintains, reading the skies was not a science, because it meant engaging with the human rather than the physical environment. Janković demonstrates convincingly that the activities of provincial naturalists, and their concern with investigating abnormal events to strengthen regional identities, played vital roles in altering the observation and interpretation of weather conditions.Meteorology is a tricky discipline to discuss historically because the word's significance has changed dramatically. In Janković's period, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it embraced diverse celestial phenomena—meteors, comets, and the northern lights as well as rain, snow, and so forth. Rather strangely, considering his historical sensitivity, Janković uses the word “meteorology” throughout, a confusing decision. Well organized into seven distinct chapters, Reading the Skies opens by examining how traditional beliefs fashioned weather reports and includes a fine investigation of the political and religious implications of extraordinary phenomena. The central section explores the importance of regional interests in recording weather characteristics for local natural histories. Clergymen were particularly important in maintaining research traditions based on provincial pride, and the career of an erudite Cornish naturalist, Reverend William Borlase, illustrates the relationships between national and local concerns. The final two chapters concentrate on changes toward the end of the period, discussing how agricultural requirements and the demands of metropolitan chemical reformers resulted in shifts away from localized studies based on classical principles. In the early nineteenth century specialized experts and instrument makers were converting the whole world and its atmosphere into their laboratory. They sought to measure ordinary weather accurately so that they could build causal, predictive models.As in many good books, a third is taken up with notes and bibliographies. This type of research involves retrieving fleeting references from a wide range of texts, and the succinct, scholarly prose relies on an impressive breadth of reading. The intriguing illustrations are supplemented by text boxes—framed lists of articles, peoples, and episodes that would normally be relegated to an appendix but that here provide valuable visual evidence to support an argument. Nevertheless, since Reading the Skies claims to be “a cultural history,” it is disconcerting to find that artistic and literary sources have been deliberately excluded. This is very much a gentlemanly account. Little attention is paid to the farmers, laundresses, and other workers for whom weather vagaries were not just diary items but held a very real and practical significance. Women are also absent, even though many men held witches responsible for the unpredictable and freakish behavior of unruly female nature.This is a learned study that engages with historiographical issues yet also provides a wealth of detailed primary information. It empathetically reconstructs the preoccupations of English provincial gentlemen who then, as now, were convinced that England's weather was deteriorating. (shrink)
Moral concern with food intake is as old asmorality itself. In the course of history, however,several ways of critically examining practices of foodproduction and food intake have been developed.Whereas ancient Greek food ethics concentrated on theproblem of temperance, and ancient Jewish ethics onthe distinction between legitimate and illicit foodproducts, early Christian morality simply refused toattach any moral significance to food intake. Yet,during the middle ages food became one of theprinciple objects of monastic programs for moralexercise (askesis). During the seventeenth (...) andeighteenth century, food ethics was transformed interms of the increasing scientific interest in foodintake, while in the nineteenth century the socialdimension of food ethics was discovered, with theresult that more and more attention was given to theproduction and distribution of food products. Becauseof the increasing distance between the production andconsumption of food products ever since, theoutstanding feature of contemporary food ethics is itreliance and dependence on labeling practices. (shrink)
The paper deals with the transformation of plant breeding from an agricultural practice into an applied academic science in the late 19th and early 20th centuries Germany. The aim is to contribute to the ongoing debate about the relationship between science and technology. After a brief discussion of this debate the first part of the paper examines how pioneers of plant breeding developed their breeding methods and commercially successful varieties. The focus here is on the role of scientific concepts (...) and theories in the agricultural innovation process. The second part turns towards the strategies by which agronomists tried to establish plant breeding as an academic discipline and themselves as the new experts for breeding research and varietal development. Again, the focus is on the interplay of scientific theory and agricultural practice. It is argued that in order to better understand the transformation of plant breeding into an applied academic science we have to take different levels into account, i.e. the levels of organizations, individuals and objects, at which science and technology interact. (shrink)
This paper aims to investigate the origins and evolution of IslamicBanking and Finance from the early days of Islam up to the formal establishmentof Islamic banks in the sixties of the last century. It also sheds light on thebanking practices in the later parts of Islamic history which is an almost unresearchedarea. It records the existence of interest free lending societies at theend of the 19th century and the situation preceding the development of modernIslamic banks in the second half (...) of the twentieth century. The paper concludesthat Islamic banking was an attempt to practice an aspect of economic life inan Islamic way and it first emerged in rural and agricultural economies andnothing to do with the petrodollar or oil boom of the Middle East as usuallyput forward. (shrink)
Between 1907 and 1915 Albert Francis Blakeslee transformed both himself and the Connecticut Agricultural College at Storrs into things neither had been at the beginning of the century. Using the varied commitments of the agricultural college and experiment station at which he worked as resources with which to build his career, Blakeslee began as a botanist and instructor in botany and ended as a geneticist and teacher of genetics. Moreover, he left behind at Storrs a legacy of genetic (...) research and instruction in the form of an autonomous department of Botany and Genetics. The story of Blakeslee's career at the Connecticut Agricultural College reveals the multifold ways in which agricultural researchers identified unique institutional resources and built unexpected careers and unanticipated institutional structures, a process which had a significant impact on the disciplinary growth of genetics in the United States. (shrink)
This essay examines the growing concerns about disciplinary narrowing occurring in agricultural research and the prospects of ameliorating the detrimental effects of disciplinary compartmentalization while capitalizing on its positive effects. The general model for agricultural science is that disciplinary groupings set the logic and standards for research; the disciplinary sciences are set in a hierarchical arrangement which allows communication from the relevant basic sciences through applied research into technology development and use and problem-solving. But agricultural research throughout (...) most of its history has been goal-oriented and, therefore, is subject to ethical judgements of its worth and consequences. Also, strategic aspects of agricultural research have been subject to the evaluations and criticisms of both scientists and critics with differing interests at stake. Goals can change and organizations can be set to enable multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, but both goals and organizations come up against values associated with the disciplinary quality of the research, the social setting of academic science, the competition for resources, and the scientific reward system. However, there are changes underway in the agricultural scientific community which may recast the impacts of disciplinary structuring: (1) changes in the disciplinary components of subject areas and departments, (2) evolution and introductions of integrative and systems sciences into the system, (3) infusion of the same new powerful tools into most of the sciences, and (4) increased networking among scientists of different disciplines. Given that scientists' values and personalities intrude in agricultural science and research strategies, the future of agricultural research may rest on the scientists' intellectual vision and philosophical awareness that go beyond the expected disciplinary limits. (shrink)
Agricultural science played a prominent role in Nazi research policy. During the Second World War, German science commandeered research results and materials from occupied Europe. This process advanced individual careers. It also had a decided influence on research practice and problem choice, both during and after the war. This essay explores the significance of wartime developments for an understanding of Nazi policy and the history of agricultural research.
Of the requisites for economic development, human capital is the most “policy-proof,” is the one which developed nations can most effectively render on large scale, and is that which American colleges of Agriculture are uniquely equipped to render. Graduate study in agricultural economics is a popular choice of third world students as it occupies a pivotal position between agricultural science and the liberal arts, giving it substantial relevance to economic development. It is necessary to understand the history, (...) economics, sociology, and psychology of the institutions that are central to economic development. Graduate programs in agricultural economics have fallen short of their potential to contribute to human capital and hence to the process of economic development. It is recommended that these programs capitalize on the disciplinary ties to both agricultural science and to the liberal arts, and in particular, 1) place greater emphasis on international aspects of macroeconomics, 2) include in the study of microeconomics more realistic treatment of what prices and markets can and cannot accomplish, and 3) emphasize the importance of effective communication in preparing returning third world students for their responsibilities in bridging the gap between research and policy. (shrink)
Recent scholarship has focused on the tensions, contradictions, and limits of place-based branding through labels of origin, place-named agricultural products, and geographical indications. Existing literature demonstrates that even well-intentioned efforts to use place-based branding to protect the livelihoods and cultural and ecological practices of small producers are often undermined by transnational firms, states, and local elites who attempt to capture the benefits of these marketing strategies. Yet, little attention has been given to the implications of place-based branding for competition (...) among geographically dispersed agricultural producers. While place-based branding can be used for emancipatory ends, it can also be used strategically by agricultural producers to expand their market share at the expense of others. To explore these dynamics, I trace an alternative history of place-based branding that begins not in the potentially emancipatory politics of protecting terroir but rather in the tensions and contradictions characterizing the rise and decline of the US food regime. Drawing on a cross-time comparison of branding strategies within the global cotton trade, I make two key arguments. First, I argue that US producers and the US state forged the use of different types of branding strategies in response to the distinct tensions and contradictions characterized by the rise and decline of the US food regime. Second, these distinct branding strategies organized competition among geographically dispersed cotton producers in different ways. (shrink)