Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Davis Cooperative Extension Specialist, told the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) members at their 2019 Annual Meeting and Forum at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida on March 5th, 2019 that food marketers are using fear tactics to increase consumer sales, destroying agriculture’s ability to employ the latest peer reviewed science to address global food sustainability.
Van Eenennaam demonstrated how science and technology has enabled animal agriculture to reduce its carbon footprint, yet misinformation and fear-mongering by food marketers has forced the dairy industry to increase methane emissions due to the loss of bovine somatropin (rBST) in dairy herds. “Our milk results in 7% more methane emissions per glass because we cater to fear-mongering about safe technology to increase our sales,” said Van Eenennaam.
“The evidence is clear”, added Van Eenennaam. “Fear compels people to react and food marketing companies are exploiting this fact to the detriment of production agriculture. They prey on a parent’s instinctive desire to protect the health of their children by using lies to scare them into paying more for absence-labeled foods, or worse to avoid fresh produce altogether due to misguided fears of GMOs or pesticides. This is the most unethical and disingenuous way to increase market share imaginable. There is a need to defend objective truth – especially around food & agriculture – because ‘alternative ag facts’ harm sustainability.”
Why should consumers care, asked Van Eenennaam? “Because GM (genetic modification) has facilitated reductions in pesticide use & environmental footprint of agricultural production, leading to a 50% decrease in global insecticide use on cotton as a result of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis genetically modified) cotton. Genetically engineered crops reduced global pesticide spraying by 618.7 million kg (approximately 8.1%), and as a result, decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on these crops by 18.6%. Use of bovine somatropin would have increased feed efficiency and decreased the environmental impact of our dairy herd. When we monetize fear by precluding farmer access to safe technology, which has been proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions & global insecticide use, we HARM biodiversity & beneficial insects.”