Iowa Public Television


Iowa State Scientist Reacts to Food, Inc.

posted on April 18, 2010

Ultimately, viewer impression of Food, Inc. may be shaped more by personal bias, than by the information in 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 questioned the very use of technology in America's food supply.

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms: "I mean, we have learned, for example, in cattle we've learned how to, uh, 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?' You know, 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's little doubt those criticizing production agriculture most stridently made there voices heard in Food, Inc.

But Iowa State University scientist Lawrence Johnson, a leading authority on food technology, who also appeared in the program, says he regrets that Food, Inc. producers failed to present his position fairly.

Lawrence Johnson, Iowa State University: "That's not what happened and I feel very frustrated, frankly even embarrassed by being portrayed as being, 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's appeared on programs on the History and Discovery Channels.

But, he says Food, Inc. 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, Iowa State University: "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 in that, that, along those lines."


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