Agro-Environmental Practice in the Industrial Age: The Scientific and Moral Debate over Adulteration

The next AAAS-CHF history seminar will take place Tuesday, July

21,4:30-6:00 pm. Dr. Benjamin Cohen, Assistant Professor in the Department

of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Virginia, will

discus “Agro-Environmental Practice in the Industrial Age: The Scientific

and Moral Debate over Adulteration.”

Dr. Cohen’s research focuses on the historically changing relationships

between science, technology, and

the environment, with a particular focus on agrarian sites and agro-food

issues. His book, Notes from the Ground: Science, Soil, and Society in

the American Countryside, will be published by Yale University Press in

2009. In this seminar, he will explore how critical responses to new foods

and new agricultural practices in the later nineteenth century were shaped

by a deeper moral debate about the dominant key term, “adulteration”.

While chemists sought to introduce better means for defining and then

detecting adulterants as early as the 1820s, it was the increasing

disconnect between consumers and producers of food that gave credence to

concerns about the merits of new industrial products and a changing

agricultural system.

The seminar is part of a series co-hosted by the American Association for

the Advancement of Science Archives and the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s

Center for Contemporary History and Policy that explores social,

institutional, and intellectual histories of contemporary policy problems

that are interwoven with developments in science and technology. For

summaries of past seminars, please see

To RSVP, contact Amy Crumpton

[[email protected] or 202-326-6791]. All

seminars will be held in the Revelle Conference Room, 2nd floor, AAAS

Headquarters, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005. Light

refreshments will be served.