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Agricultural economics as behavioral economics

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | July 23, 2016

Behavioral economics is perhaps the most important new paradigm in economics in the new millenium. It is based on the idea that people don’t behave rationally, like economics suggests – that they are, in Thaler’s words, Humans (homo sapiens) rather than Econs (homo economicus). In the 1960s and 1970s, Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon and others … Continue reading »

Why agricultural biotech hasn’t reached its potential

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | July 19, 2016

Some of the key questions we raised as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the ICABR consortium were “why haven’t GMO crops been accepted and adopted as Green Revolution crops or medical rDNA?” “What are the constraints to the adoption of GMO?” “What are the differences among nations?” Several speakers addressed these questions and here … Continue reading »

Witness to the history of agricultural and resource economics at Berkeley

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | March 8, 2016

Forty-three years ago I arrived to Berkeley to begin my PhD in agricultural and resource economics (ARE), and without realizing it, I witnessed the evolution of this great department. As the department faces new challenges, I realized that the evolution of ARE has important lessons for its future and for university departments in general. One … Continue reading »

What is CNR (College of Natural Resources)?

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | September 1, 2015

Especially at the start of the semester, I am frequently asked by students, parents, sponsors, and otherwise curious people, what is the College of Natural Resources. I actually asked it myself; and over the years I think that I got the answer. The college embodies all the contradictions, practical deliberations, and social debate relating to … Continue reading »

Family farms vs. Americanism

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | May 6, 2015

Although much of today’s debates around immigration reform is, on the surface, about legalities and economics and human rights, we know that below the surface – and sometimes above it – a lot of it is about cultural assimilation. Resisters worry that recent immigrants, usually meaning those from south of the border rather than those … Continue reading »

On the Accomplishments of our Environmental Leaders

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | October 2, 2014

This summer, the 14th cohort of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program graduated. The Beahrs ELP summer program brings mid-career professionals to Berkeley for professional training and I was fortunate enough to be the co-director of the program, alongside Dean Keith Gilless. When Dick Beahrs gave us the means to start the Beahrs ELP, I thought … Continue reading »

God helps those who help themselves

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | July 15, 2014

I grew up in a religious family but I am not particularly religious. I believe that there is (are) some Supreme Being(s) above us, but I consider the religious narrative and beliefs of organized religion to be fiction; albeit fiction with many useful lessons, but nevertheless, fiction. One of my favorite religious stories is of … Continue reading »

On life and cocoa in the Ivory Coast

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | September 24, 2013

This week I returned from my fourth trip to Africa, this time to the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire, but I gave up on pronouncing it…). I went for a project of ICARF and Mars Chocolate, aiming to understand how to improve cocoa productivity there, but I learned much more about Africa, development and cocoa. I … Continue reading »

In praise of this year’s World Food Prize Laureates

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | July 3, 2013

We recently learned that the 2013 World Food Prize was awarded to three biotechnology scientists, Marc Van Montagu of Belgium, and Mary-Dell Chilton and Robert T. Fraley of the United States, for developing methods of inserting genes from various organisms to plant cells. I find this recognition to be justified and long overdue. The committee … Continue reading »

The GMO labeling debate continued: It’s about the ‘benchmark’

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | June 8, 2012

I was amazed by the response to my previous post – and I will try address some of the main points. I found three main themes repeating through the comments. First, it is clear that there are many people who are concerned about the side effects of GMOs and don’t trust biotech companies that produce … Continue reading »

Why labeling of GMOs is actually bad for people and the environment

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | June 6, 2012

On November 6th, California voters will be asked to vote on a proposition about labeling of genetically modified (GM) products. On the surface this seems quite reasonable: people should have information about what they consume. In my view, labeling requirements are appropriate when there is undisputed scientific evidence that a food component is damaging, which, … Continue reading »