Explaining the Science Behind Modern Farming

Prairie Gleanings

Did folks used to listen to science and reasoning over fear and emotion?

Published on: October 15, 2010

There it was, at the bottom of my receipt. “Our chicken is antibiotic free!”

I noticed this as was leaving the St. Louis Children’s Hospital cafeteria. For weeks, SLCH’s cafeteria has been baiting me with various bits of “sustainable” marketing propaganda on signs, the hospital t.v. channel, and now their receipts. They also proudly proclaim their milk is from non-RBST animals.

Last weekend, I drove past a group of folks picketing a St. Louis KFC. According to the signs, they’re mad about antibiotics, additives and breeding for bigger breasts. My friends in the car (both doctors) vaguely understood the debate.

Believers in modern medicine and modern food production convenience, the husband and wife couple (who are extremely skinny) think the sustainable/organic food movement is nothing more than a clever marketing ploy. However, they looked to me for evidence as to why farmers adhere to modern production methods.

As I explained, it all depends on how you define sustainable. Is a sustainable food production system one in which 1950s techniques are applied, thereby reducing the food supply and making it a luxury of the middle and upper classes, but arguably “healthier?” Or is a sustainable food production system one in which modern science is used to efficiently produce more food on fewer acres for a global population that is nearing the 7 billion mark?

Much like they would never treat an illness according to a 1950s-era medical text, they agreed antiquated food production is not appropriate to feed today’s population. As students of science, I figured they would see it our way.

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