TIME magazine's Controviersial Article on Modern Farming

Published online: Aug 27, 2009 AG Professional Update
Ag Professional Editor's Note: On Friday, Aug. 21, Time magazine published an online article titled "Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food." The article is expected to be the cover story of the Aug. 31 dated issue of Time. Many agriculture industry associations and organizations have labeled the article one-sided at best. In a letter to Time magazine, the National Corn Growers Association took issue with its Aug. 31 cover story on food and its "apparent ignorance of modern American farming." Despite the abundance, affordability, health and safety of food in the United States, the magazine strove hard to find a crisis to report on and left out valuable information about modern farming practices, according to the NCGA. "Your article states that 'purists worry that the very definition of sustainability will be co-opted', but in the midst of your criticisms you fail to provide a definition of that term," NCGA President Bob Dickey, a farmer in Laurel, Neb., wrote in his letter to the editor. "Readers would infer that organic practices are most sustainable, a notion that is not supported by the most recent authoritative studies on this subject." Dickey cited a number of measurements that showed how farmers are reducing their impacts on the environment while working hard to provide enough food for a growing population. "When it comes to corn production, for example, the Field to Market Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture has found that, between 1987 and 2007, corn farmers have significantly reduced the environmental impact of producing a bushel of corn," he wrote. "Land use is down 37 percent, soil loss is down 69 percent, energy use is down 37 percent and emissions are down 30 percent." In the end, Dickey said, the mainstream media needs to get out on the farm and see what's really happening, and to do so with an open mind. UPDATE: AgriTalk will be recording an interview with Bryan Walsh, the TIME magazine author who wrote the controversial article "The Real Cost of Cheap Food - America's Food Crisis and How to Fix It." The article is TIME's lead story in its Aug. 31 edition. The interview will be Thursday afternoon and then will air that interview in Friday, Aug. 28, on AgriTalk. Watch www.agritalk.com for more details and previews. The TIME online article is a searing indictment of nearly all modern food production methods, the article is highly critical of food produced today, as well as those who consume it. The article warns readers "our food is increasingly bad for us, even dangerous." The AgriTalk interview will certainly be provocative. Listeners can hear the interview online or find an AgriTalk radio affiliate list at www.AgriTalk.com. www.AgriTalk.com To find out more visit www.agprofessional.com Time online: www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1917458,00.html