Tuesday, September 27, 2016

'Baysanto' and the Competitiveness of the Ag Sector

There is a nice post summing this up over at the Farmer Hayek blog:

It seems to me that the relationship between anti-trust legislation and regulation is an under-discussed issue in these cases. Agribusiness firms are heavily regulated by three of the most powerful regulators in the US: the FDA, the USDA, and the EPA. Many regulations function as fixed costs, implying that there are economies of scale in regulatory compliance. Thus, the greater the regulatory burden placed on firms in an industry, the greater the inducement to merge.

Similarly, from a 2003 issue of Regulation:

'In the end, EPA and the USDA regulatory policies place federal bureaucrats in the middle of virtually all field trials of gene-spliced plants, spelling disaster for small businesses and academic institutions whose scientists lack the resources to comply with burdensome, expensive, unnecessary regulation. The cost of field-testing gene-spliced plants is as much as 20-fold higher than for virtually identical plants crafted with older, less precise genetic techniques.' -Regulation, Summer 2003 

See also:
More details related to this from a 2010 post at EconomicSense - Monsanto Antitrust Case

Henry Miller and Gregory Conko. 'Bootleggers and Biotechs.' Regulation. Summer 2003

Monday, September 26, 2016

Gary Shilling, Bees, Glyphosate and Industrial Ag in NYT

Surprisingly, when listening to an older Bloomberg Masters in Business podcast,with Barry Ritholtz and Gary Shilling, in the 2nd half of the podcast they segway into a discussion on bees and colony collapse disorder....Gary discusses major causes....and its not pesticides.

The EPA finally concludes, glyphosate probably is not a cause of cancer.

Jayson Lusk discusses the environmental benefits of industrial agriculture....it looks like even the NYT readers might learn that modern agriculture is sustainable agriculture.

Shilling also gives some interesting thoughts about the macro economy and the impact of international trade and technological change on the job market, and takes on some of the theories of malaise related to secular stagnation (the idea that we have run out of new investment opportunities, everything useful has already been invented etc.) and other things.  

Science Literacy and GMO Perceptions (Study)

This certainly provides some evidence that an learning path associated with QR codes might be ideal for informing consumers without scaring them away.
From the Abstract:
"A survey experiment was designed to measure the effect of science and genetics literacy on consumer perception and acceptance of GMOs and GMF. A sample population of college students answered a questionnaire either before or after a 50-minute lecture about science and genetics concepts relevant to GMO development and cultivation....Comparison of pre-lecture and post-lecture responses revealed that science and genetics literacy had—at least—a short-term effect on student perception of GMOs, which led to increased desirability of GMF, including food containing transgenic and first-generation GMOs."

Article: Can Science and Genetics Literacy Affect Student Perception of Genetically Modified Organisms? Gerardo H. Nunez, Alisson P. Kovaleski, Bruno Casamali, and Rebecca L. Darnell
University of Florida
See also:  

Monday, September 5, 2016

Will new GMO labeling law stir a revolution....or an opportunity for fact driven revelation?

A recent NYT piece is titled: G.M.O. Labeling Law Could Stir a Revolution

The main thesis I think is driven by this question:

Has the argument that food production processes are as important as ingredients begun to make sense to policy makers?

Maybe it has. This is exactly why we need to be careful about the learning path that these QR codes provide consumers. Because the truth is the author might have a point here, and snake oil food marketers (i.e. Cliff Bar and Chipotle) will exploit this if they can.

On another note I can't help but comment on the following commentary in the article:

Another problem is that by simplifying the growing of almost unimaginably large tracts of crops, especially corn and soybeans, G.M.O.s have become an indispensable crutch for the fertilizer- and pesticide-dependent monoculture that is wrecking our land and water and generating the execrable excess of corn- and soy-based junk food that is sickening our population and decreasing our life spans.

I'd direct interested readers here. 

One thing these QR codes have the ability to do is clear up misconceptions and hyperbole like this that tend to keep creeping up.

See also: Big Data + Genomics not = Your Grandparent's Monoculture