Did Gender Inequality Start With the Plow?

From a pair of Harvard economists, Alberto Alesina and Nathan Nunn, and a UCLA business school professor, Paola Giuliano, comes this working paper (Abstract here and below; full version here) that tests the hypothesis that current gender role differences can be traced to shifting methods of agriculture, particularly the introduction of the plow, which required significant upper body strength, grip strength, and burst of power that favored men over women.

GMOs and Mother Nature? Closer Than You Think

When it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), one criticism stands above the others: it's unnatural. The idea that (unlike conventional genetic exchange within a species) genes from one species can be transferred to another fuels this perception of unnaturalness.

Unscrambling the Egg Disaster

If there's a winner in the recent recall of 550 million eggs potentially infected with salmonella enteritidis, it's your local egg farmer. Under the assumption that eggs sourced from small, organic, free-range farms are less likely to be contaminated with salmonella, consumers are flocking to farmers' markets and backyard coops in a panicked quest to avoid industrially produced eggs. According to one newspaper account, shoppers are increasingly willing to pay up to $3.50 for a dozen eggs in order to have "a direct link to their food." But I wonder: does this make any sense?

Because We Haven't Brought You Enough News on Canadian Agriculture Lately …

Here are two interesting items.

Fair Trade and the Food Movement

Can the Food Movement scale up?

Toward an Ethical Economics of Food Policy

A speech by William Masters.

Organic Agriculture: A Solution to Global Warming?

Calculating organic's footprint isn't as simple as it seems.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of GMOs

Roundup-resistant weeds and drought-resistant seeds.

Inside the Seed Vault

The TED blog recently posted Cary Fowler's fascinating TED talk as well as a Q&A with Fowler, director of the world's largest seed bank. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, otherwise known as the doomsday vault, is located in a remote area of Norway and was built to protect the world's crops from disease, climate change, and famine.

Will the "Green Revolution" Ever Hit Africa?

To most people in the developed world, agricultural science is a bit of an afterthought. We go to the grocery store and decide between small, vibrantly red cherry tomatoes and charmingly misshapen heirloom tomatoes. We buy big, juicy oranges and know that when we peel them the juice will run over our fingers and the sticky scent will linger. We can choose between 10 different kinds of apples, no matter the season. At no point during our shopping do most of us stop to think about the technology used to produce this bounty. ...