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ISU Scientist Questions Accuracy of POV Food Inc.

posted on April 22, 2010 at 10:52 AM

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Iowa Journal Host Mark Pearson: Ultimately viewer impressions of Food, Inc. may be shaped more by personal bias than by the information on the program.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, Monsanto and others dispute many of the claims made in Food, Inc. while an eminent scientist from Iowa State University claims Food, Inc. failed to tell the whole story.  Others question the very use of technology in America's food supply.

Food, Inc - Farmer: I mean, we have learned, for example, in cattle we have learned how to -- how to plant, fertilize and harvest corn using global positioning satellite technology and nobody sits back and asks, but should we be feeding cows corn? We've become a culture of technicians. We're all into the how of it and nobody is stepping back and saying, but why?

There is little doubt those criticizing production agriculture most stridently made their voices heard in Food, Inc. but Iowa State University scientist Lawrence Johnson, a leading authority on food technology who also appeared on the program, says he regrets that Food, Inc. producers failed to present his position fairly.

Lawrence Johnson: That's not what happened and I feel very frustrated, frankly even embarrassed by being portrayed in this movie that is very anti-agriculture and frankly portrays a very narrow perspective and, in my mind, inaccurate and scientifically invalid portrayal of the food industry.

No stranger to national media, Johnson is routinely quoted in print and he has appeared on programs on the History and Discovery Channels. But he says Food, Inc.'s producers weren't interested in dissenting opinions, much less anything resembling balanced journalism. For Johnson, a credible researcher grounded in the rigors of objective science, the experience and the finished product have been deeply disappointing.

Lawrence Johnson: We think about ethics all the time, we think about doing good science all the time and this movie really missed that mark and frankly I feel very frustrated to be portrayed along those lines.

Tags: agriculture business ecology economy food food safety industry Iowa science