The bubonic plague sparked cultural and technological transformation. What might come from COVID?

Credit: Otto Detmer

Europe was in the grips of history’s deadliest pandemic, the Black Death. This, too, likely originated in China and followed the Silk Road, arriving in Italy in 1348. As described in Boccaccio’s “Decameron,” many of the rich fled the pestilence to the country, but the vast majority of Europeans remained exposed. More than half of them died.

The plague further contributed to the collapse of feudalism, depleting the labor force on which it depended and slicing the value of land, which now lay fallow. Formerly little better off than slaves, serfs could now sell their work for money that the lords had no choice but to pay. The seeds of free market capitalism were planted. Previously beholden to the nobility and the church, artists and scholars flourished in what soon became the Renaissance, and freethinking priests spearheaded the Protestant Reformation. From the Old World, a more open and vibrant one became possible.

Related article:  Vaccine distribution logistics, not vaccine development, may pose highest hurdle to achieving COVID herd immunity
Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Then came COVID-19. The pandemic has accelerated the trends begun by the internet, making us less trustful of institutions, angrier and more isolated. Economies are buckling under massive unemployment, and fears of global depression loom. If history is any guide, the immediate result is liable to be further disruption and fundamental changes in the way we lead our lives.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend