Participant Info

First Name
Ashton
Last Name
Merck
Affiliation
Duke University, PhD Candidate
Website URL
https://scholars.duke.edu/person/ashton.merck
Keywords
Food safety, Food inspection, Consumer protection, Trade, Administrative Law, Business History, Legal History, Regulation
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

Photo
About Me

In my dissertation, I study the scientific, technical, and legal challenges in food safety and international trade over the past half-century.  Using the evolution of meat and poultry inspection as a case study, I focus on how policymakers negotiate difficult tradeoffs in food safety.  As a business historian, I pay close attention to the role of firms and trade associations in shaping domestic policy and, increasingly, setting norms through private standards. More generally, I am interested in how societies choose to regulate and manage uncertain risks to health and safety.


I would be comfortable providing a  historical perspective on U.S. agricultural export policy, subsidies and tariffs on agricultural products, US-EU trade relations (to a much lesser extent, US-China trade relations), foodborne illness outbreaks, and more generally the structure of the USDA and its overall approach to regulating food products, including meat and poultry inspection, “natural” labeling, and the USDA organic label.  Through other research work at Duke, I can also speak to some of the contemporary issues regarding CAFOs and pork production in North Carolina from my perspective as a historian.

In addition to my dissertation research, I frequently speak and write on my experience working on collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects, and how that work has shaped my approach to doctoral research and my perspective on post-graduate careers.

Recent Publications
Media Coverage
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/01/08/historians-urge-departments-enthusiastically-and-substantively-prepare-grad-students
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Capitalism, Economic History, Government, Higher Ed, Law