Adam M. RomeroMay 30, 2022
Industrial Waste and the Chemicalization of American Agriculture
University of California Press 2021
The toxicity of pesticides to the environment and humans is often framed as an unfortunate effect of their benefits to agricultural production. In Economic Poisoning: Industrial Waste and the Chemicalization of American Agriculture (U California Press, 2021), Adam M. Romero upends this narrative and provides a fascinating new history of pesticides in American industrial agriculture prior to World War II. Through impeccable archival research, Romero reveals the ways in which late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American agriculture, especially in California, functioned less as a market for novel pest-killing chemical products and more as a sink for the accumulating toxic wastes of mining, oil production, and chemical manufacturing. Connecting farming ecosystems to technology and the economy, Romero provides an intriguing reconceptualization of pesticides that forces readers to rethink assumptions about food, industry, and the relationship between human and nonhuman environments.
Eyad Houssami makes theatre and has participated in the revitalization of an ancient organic farm in southern Lebanon. He is editor of the Arabic-English book Doomed by Hope: Essays on Arab Theatre (Pluto/Dar Al Adab) and was editor-at-large of Portal 9, a bilingual literary and academic journal about urbanism. His doctoral research project on ecology and agriculture in post-independence Lebanon at the University of Leeds and this work are supported by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council (grant number AH/R012733/1) through the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities.