NPR critique of “Food, Inc” points to important divide
How to reach across the GMO corn rows: A brief segment on NPR reported from Kansas City has the food-politics blogosphere and Twitter kingdom bristling. (La Vida Locavore calls it a "one-sided shallow hit piece," while the Organic Nation blog accuses NPR of pandering to its advertiser, Monsanto.) It's not quite as dire as portrayed. The piece's message, that "ordinary farmers — the people who grow the lion's share of what America eats — have largely been left out of the mainstream media debate over the film," is in fact somewhat misleading: it's pretty clear that most (possibly all) of the farmers interviewed for the piece have not even seen "Food, Inc." yet — just the trailer, if that. Trent Loos, a Nebraska rancher and blogger, calls it a "slap in the face to every farmer and ranch family in this country… a concerted effort to mislead the American public about what is happening in American agriculture." But if one tracks down Loos's written comments about the film, he doesn't specify any inaccuracies — just makes very defensive comments about not wanting to go back to 19th-century farming practices. Meanwhile, NPR also interviews Kansas GMO corn and soy grower Brandon Oswalt, who says he's no fan of Monsanto's controls and tactics, yet adds that "you may not like it, but you got to roll with it, or you're going to get rolled aside" — a depressingly pragmatic view echoed by other farmers in the film. Oswalt also sums up why conventional farmers are feeling touchy: "If you attack the things that are paying our living, and you say that's no good, you're going to do away with the last generation of farmers on the land." He's right. We've written before here that "Food, Inc." does not portray production farmers as the enemy, even if Big Bad Agribiz is spinning it that way. But we're going to have to offer them more role models than just the one-size-farm-fits-all Joel Salatin.
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