Thursday, August 13, 2015

Trottier Symposium Abstract

I'm speaking at the Trottier Symposium in Montreal and was asked to submit an abstract. The symposium topic is "Trusting Science- Do You"

So I prepared this:

Marketing a Mistrust of the Safest Food Supply in History

Breakthroughs in breeding and genetics have radically improved plants and animals used for food. Introduction of modern technology to production practices makes farming more efficient.  Improved chemistries allow us to produce more with less, with greater sensitivity to the environment. However, in the midst of the safest, most abundant and most diverse food supply in human history, there is a rising perception of its danger.  The suspicion has not been driven by science. Instead it is a well-funded marketing ploy to push food dollars to boutique choices, and sell lifestyle-oriented selections that promise, but don’t necessarily deliver, improved health and performance.  A multi-billion dollar industry has emerged to provide these higher- cost, health-halo alternatives. These efforts are promoted by television doctors, celebrities, best-selling authors, activist documentarians, and other self-appointed experts.  This problem results in higher prices for consumers, and slows development of new, useful genetic and chemical strategies that could help the farmer, the consumer, the environment and the needy.  Scientists engaging an evidence-based discussion are maligned as corporate patsies, typically through conduits benefiting from generous corporate support. The most substantial issue is a well-bankrolled mistrust of food, farmers and scientists, which is a tremendous problem on a planet with a growing population and dwindling resources. Today scientists, dietitians and farmers are learning to communicate these issues more effectively, and borrowing from the activist toolbox to enhance the understanding and perception of food.