Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The TIME Bandit--bad reporting from TIME Magazine.

Credit for this post goes to the Beef Advocate Network – I've sent my e-mail to the editor of TIME Magazine. You should too. Instructions on how to send e-mails below. Sorry for the length, but it's too important to cut. P.S. I'm also deleting their application from my Blackberry.

TIME cover story bashes
American food system
August 21, 2009

TIME magazine’s August 31 edition hit newsstands August 21 containing, as a cover story, the article: “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food.” The magazine’s cover features a photo of a ground beef package with a warning label: “Warning: This hamburger may be hazardous to your health. Why the American food system is bad for our bodies, our economy and our environment – and what some visionaries are trying to do about it.”

NCBA offered six expert spokespeople to visit with TIME – five coordinated in just one afternoon due to the reporter’s tight deadline – however, TIME included only one quote, obtained from an earlier interview with Kristina Butts, NCBA Manager of Legislative Affairs, about antibiotic use. Included below is a summary of the myths contained in Bryan Walsh’s article and our attempts to combat each myth prior to the article’s publication.

Attempts to follow up with the reporter have gone unanswered. We developed a comprehensive national response strategy that includes working with an industry-friendly reporter to cover the untold story behind this article, regional consumer media outreach and facilitating feedback to TIME from cattle farmers and ranchers. Two of the experts interviewed for the article submitted letters to the editor to TIME magazine, as did the Center for Consumer Freedom. We also alerted Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) graduates to share their stories in response to the article.

In addition, NCBA Executive Director of Producer Education Tom Field, Ph.D., will be on NPR’s “To the Point” on Monday, August 24. The program will feature a roundtable discussion of the topics raised in the TIME article and also will include Walsh, Polyface Farm’s Joel Salatin and National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson (click here for local stations and run times).

If you’d like to respond to the TIME article, letters to the editor can be submitted through the on-line version of the article by filling out the form that pops up on the magazine’s Web site after clicking on “Bryan Walsh” (right below the headline at the following location: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1917458,00.html). The article also has been posted to Digg.com. If you’re registered on Digg, you can vote to bury the article, and select “inaccurate” as your reason for doing so. You also can scroll to the bottom of the page and post your thoughts about what you know to be true about beef production. In addition, TIME has a Facebook fan page where comments can be posted about the story.

As a reminder, public information refuting the types of claims made in the article can be found at ExploreBeef.org. Additionally, please feel free to draw information from the myths and refutations piece below.

Funded by The Beef Checkoff
TIME magazine article myths
and beef industry refutations

Myth: Intensive agriculture is accelerating global warming; eating less meat will slow global warming.
· Livestock only contribute 3 percent of U.S. GHG emissions according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

· A grain-based system of cattle production has a low environmental impact and lower methane emissions.

Myth: CAFOs are major polluters and are inhumane for animals. Work in a CAFO is monotonous and soul-killing.
· About 85% of U.S. grazing lands are unsuitable for producing crops. Grazing animals on this land more than doubles the area that can be used to produce food. Ranchers take pride in caring for their animals, ensuring they always have room to roam and grow, access to clean water, a balanced and nutritious diet and humane treatment at all stages of life. Producers work with veterinarians and nutritionists to make sure cattle are healthy. Many of these principles are contained in the Beef Quality Assurance guidelines followed by beef producers.
· Experts like nutritionists and environmental engineers are used to ensure beef producers are good stewards of their cattle and of the land
· Each animal gets the attention it needs and every animal is checked daily
· Ranchers’ commitment to providing a safe, nutritious and wholesome product affects their everyday decisions
· Ranchers should share their passion for what they do
· Fact sheets about beef and the environment can be found at http://www.explorebeef.or/g

Myth: Animal agriculture relies heavily on antibiotics and is contributing to antibiotic resistance in human pathogens.
· Beef producers use antibiotics judiciously to treat animals that become sick and to ensure optimum health of animals in our care
· Resistant bacteria encountered in human medicine are due to antibiotic misuse in humans, not animals. No connection has been found between antibiotic use in cattle and antibiotic-resistant foodborne or other pathogens
· All antibiotics used in beef cattle production go through a rigorous testing process before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration
· Antibiotics are an important tool to prevent, control and treat disease in cattle, and healthy cattle are the foundation of safe food
· B Q A guidelines are followed and producers work closely with veterinarians when selecting and administering antibiotics

Myth: Local, organic, grass-fed and/or other niche products are the only way we can feed the population sustainably.
· Understanding the differences between types of beef production, costs/challenges associated with each type, high cost of feed, and disadvantages of grass-fed products in U.S. due to a short growing season is important to know before discussing sustainability.
· The appropriate use of technology and management creativity allows farmers and ranchers to feed the world with increasingly smaller numbers of farmers and ranchers
· Beef producers invest not only their business life but the entirety of their experience to producing good products while sustaining our communities, our resources and our enterprises
· Beef producers feed their families the same food that consumers buy

Myth: Americans are eating too much meat; modern food production encourages obesity. Hundreds of millions of people will want to shift to the same calorie-heavy, protein-rich diet that has made Americans so unhealthy. Corn helps produce that marbled taste many of us love, but it can result in beef that is higher in fat — helping to fuel the obesity epidemic.
· There are 29 lean cuts of beef, providing consumers ample choices for high-quality, lean protein.
· Consumers are NOT over-consuming protein. (We are well within Dietary Guideline recommendations.) Beef should be included in a healthy diet.

If you belong to the KLA and are not a member of the Beef Advocate network, let me know and I'll put you in touch. They provide great information to dispute attacks on agriculture

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with your comments, and you have given some great resources. I think what might even disappoint me more than their outrageous attack on American agriculture is the terrible excuse for journalism this article is. When did society start accepting such one-sided journalism?