Is your preference to shop for and purchase “natural” foods? Based on some of my observations in a few trips recently to the West Coast and Texas, there are some segments of the restaurant and grocery store industries where the usage of this phrase has gotten completely out-of-hand. Every time I hear “natural foods”, I always wonder what isn’t “natural”? Of course, that isn’t the point of marketing, which should be to communicate succinctly…no, in the food industry one seems to need phrases that are poetic and differentiate some foods as a whole lot better, safer and healthier even when they are not! Continue reading Here a “Natural” Food there a “Natural”Food…Have you had any “Natural” Food Lately?→
If you are a “foodie” you might be part of the local food movement that passionately advocates that eating locally sourced food is preferable to food produced by contemporary production agriculture. Much has been written about the pros and cons on this subject.
The local food movement championed by “locavores” enjoys passionate support by some in the media, chefs at “foodie” restaurants, and more than a few elected officials. The realities I believe about the local food movement are dramatically divergent from the locavores’ perspective.
As I have written in previous blogs posted on Terry Etherton Blog on Biotechnology, a “firestorm” has erupted in response to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s idea of calling for producers of GM, non-GM and organic crops to “coexist”. This issue flared up after USDA issued its environmental impact statement on Roundup Ready alfalfa in December, 2010 when Mr. Vilsack convened a “stakeholder” meeting (December 20) of proponents and opponents of the biotechnology to “talk it out”.
On December 7, 2010, Dr. Pamela Ronald, a distinguished plant scientist at the University of California – Davis, appeared as guest expert on the nationally-syndicated “Dr. Oz Show” to discuss the benefits of GMOs. I had been contacted by the producer of the show to participate, however, I could not because of scheduling issues (they asked at the “last minute”).
My initial thought about the show was that it provided a great opportunity to present the facts about the efficacy and safety of GMOs to a large audience. Unfortunately, what “played out” was way past disappointing. There was unbelievable bias in how the segment was edited to produce the “final” version that overshadowed the sound scientific facts about GMOs. I found it remarkable that much of what Dr. Ronald presented during the filming of the segment was edited “out” of the final version of the show!
As readers of Terry Etherton Blog on Biotechnology appreciate, I am strong believe that science journalism should being practiced in an accurate and non-biased manner. Unfortunately, there are many, many examples of inaccurate and deceptive scientific reporting. The GMO segment on the Dr. Oz Show is a good example of how journalistic bias is conducted. It is reprehensible to me that sound science was ignored and that the virtues of the scientific method were attacked on the Dr. Oz Show!
After watching the segment, and learning about what really occurred during the filming of the segment, I was compelled to write to the producer of the show to convey my disappointment in how the segment was produced.
The letter I e-mailed to the producer of the show, Rosalyn Menon, is presented below. Dr. Ronald has already written a provocative blog on Tomorrow’s Table about her experience of appearing on the Dr. Oz Show. It is a compelling read.
Ever-Green-View My 1326-ET is the new world milk production record-holder. In the course of one year, she made 72,168 pounds of milk. That’s nearly 8,400 gallons in one year, or 23 gallons per day. The average cow produces 6.5 gallons per day. Ever-Green-View My 1326-ET is the culmination of intense genetic selection, terrific cow management, and the use of technologies like rBST. Genetically, she is a product of artificial insemination and embryo transfer. Her sire is Stouder Morty-ET, and he has over 67,000 daughters in more than 15,000 dairy herds around the globe. The “ET” designation indicates that she was transferred as an embryo from her genetically superior mother to an inferior surrogate cow. Continue reading The World’s Greenest Milk Cow: Family Farmed and not Organic→
Powell examined how organic food production is portrayed in the media. The paper is based on a study Powell conducted from 1999-2004 with two colleagues at the University of Guelph in Canada, Stacey Cahill and Katija Morley. Cahill was one of Powell’s students at the time. The team explored how topics of organic food and agriculture were discussed in five North American newspapers. Using the content analysis technique, the 618 articles collected were analyzed for topic, tone and theme regarding food safety, environmental concerns and human health. Continue reading Are Organic Foods Over-Hyped?→
Proponents of organic foods have touted many health, nutrition and safety benefits associated with the consumption of these foods. However, credible science does not support the health, nutrition or safety claims made by the organic food industry (see Science Behind Reported Benefits of Organic Milk). As might be expected, this has been vigorously disputed by advocates of organic food. This is not a surprise given that deceptive use of marketing and health claims has been a core component of some campaigns to grow market share in the organic food sector. Thus, some consumers are purchasing organic food on the belief that they are healthier than conventionally produced food. Continue reading Evidence is Lacking for Nutrition-Related Health Effects of Organic Food→
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, PORTLAND, Ore., GOTHENBURG, Sweden, November 23, 2009 – Popular thinking about how to improve food systems for the better often misses the point, according to the results of a three-year global study of salmon production systems. Rather than pushing for organic or land-based production, or worrying about simple metrics such as “food miles,” the study finds that the world can achieve greater environmental benefits by focusing on improvements to key aspects of production and distribution. Continue reading Global Study Debunks Food Sustainability Myths→
Because of my commitment to defend science, scientists, and technological innovation in agriculture, I encounter folks and groups on the “other side” who use all sorts of interesting — even bizarre, and dysfunctional — tactics to scare consumers about science, food safety, and the need for technological innovation in agriculture. Continue reading Musings about Attacks on Agricultural Biotechnology→