Mike has since taken a position at University of Alaska Anchorage. We caught up with him to learn more about his notable dissertation and find out what he was working on now.
Tell us about your dissertation.
“The dissertation is composed of four-essays. We conduct an economic examination of the impacts of new types of agricultural biotechnology on markets and production systems. Genetically engineered crops resistant to key insect pests (“Bt” crops) and resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (“RoundUp Ready” crops) have been around for years. Now scientists have genetically engineered some species of insect pests, such that they can spread genes to weaken the reproductive ability of that species or prevent the population from being able to spread certain crop diseases. My dissertation looks first at how consumer welfare may be impacted by wide-spread releases of genetically engineered insects to control pest threats to berry and citrus crops. We find large welfare gains in controlling the geographic extent of genetically engineered insect releases to preserve consumer product choices, along with documenting negative welfare impacts of releases in certified organic production areas. My second essay uses a bioeconomic model to examine how releases of a particular type of genetically engineered insect can help decrease resistance to the pesticidal component of “Bt” genetically engineered crops. The value of a pesticide is based on both the pest population to control and the susceptibility to the product. As releases also impede insect reproduction, we examine the trade-offs using these releases for Bt resistance management and economically optimal input mixes. Lastly, I examine how maize that is genetically engineered for pest and herbicide-resistance has differentially impacted Filipino farmers’ yields, with a focus on differences across levels of farmer education and growing experience.”
What you are doing now?
“I am a Term Asst. Professor of Economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage. We’ve lived here since July 2020. I’m also the co-PI on an Interamerican Development Bank project evaluating the status and trajectories of regulatory systems in Latin America for CRISPR-based gene-edited crops and livestock.”