For the past few months I have found myself on the email list of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The press releases from Tara Mosby, the group's public relations officer, mostly describe the latest blog postings of Douglas Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist in the UCS Food & Environment program.
I appreciate the PR business -- especially knowing that getting the attention of editors like me is not always that easy. With hundreds of emails rolling through the inbox every week not all of them get the attention they might deserve -- and that includes moving them to the unsubscribe list.
Mosby's releases are written in the alarming language of an old school environmentalist and she takes the extra step of emphasizing the potential for disaster by printing the titles in all capital letters.
For example: PESTICIDE USE IS MUCH GREATER THAN REPORTED; or POPULAR INSECTICIDE CONCERN FOR BIRDS, BEES AND WATERWAYS; or USDA ABILITY TO MEASURE IMPACT OF 2,4-D CROPS HOBBLED BY OUTDATED REGULATIONS; or NEXT GENERATION OF HERBICIDE-RESISTANT CROPS POTENTIAL THREAT TO ENVIRONMENT; or AGRICULTURE NO-TILL PRACTICE LINKED TO POLLUTED WATERWAYS.
Actually it was this last one that finally caught my attention and spurred me to action. (You can read Dr. Gurian-Sherman's blog for yourself here). Having written about the benefits of no-till and interviewed some of the nation's best no-till farmers in my career, not to mention attending more than I can remember discussions of the topic, I was concerned that the concerned scientist might not have all that much field experience.