Paul B. Thompson

Nobel Conference 46

Paul B. Thompson, Ph.D., W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics, Michigan State University, East Lansing

Paul Thompson’s research has centered on ethical and philosophical questions associated with agriculture and food, and especially concerning the guidance and development of agricultural technoscience. This research has led him to undertake a series of projects on the application of recombinant DNA techniques to agricultural crops and food animals. His new work focuses on nanotechnology in the agrifood system.

Thompson earned a B.A. in philosophy from Emory University, Atlanta, Ga. (1974). Enrolling at Stony Brook University (SUNY), he was awarded an M.A. in philosophy (1979) and a Ph.D. in the philosophy of technology (1980). From 1990 to 1997 he directed the Center for Science and Technology Policy and Ethics at Texas A&M University. Following six years as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and director of the Center for Food Animal Productivity and Well-Being at Purdue University, he joined the faculty of Michigan State University in 2003.

Thompson is the author of 14 books and editions including Food Biotechnology in Ethical Perspective (1997; the first book-length philosophical treatment of agricultural biotechnology); The Spirit of the Soil: Agriculture and Environmental Ethics (1995); and The Ethics of Aid and Trade (1992). He also served as co-editor of The Agrarian Roots of Pragmatism (2000). In 1993 a book he co-wrote with four colleagues, Sacred Cows and Hot Potatoes: Agrarian Myths and Policy Realities (1992), won the American Agricultural Economics Association Award for Excellence in Communication. His most recent book, The Agrarian Vision: Sustainability and Environmental Ethics, was published by the University Press of Kentucky in July 2010.