Question: What do you think is the biggest public misconception about agriculture? How would you help to fix it?
I feel the biggest misconception about agriculture stems from how society perceives pesticides and pesticide use. The issue lies in the fact that people who are not farmers, chemists or biologists read reports about the chemicals that are used to grow their food and, without a full understanding, they make assumptions. It is like any industry that is perceived as environmentally dangerous being attacked for the dangers and not being commended for the improvements, or good points, that have occurred.
One way to help fix this issue would be to educate society even more. We need to make farmers’ practices more nationally known; the biologists need to talk about the actual effects the pesticides have on the pests they target as well as the ones they do not; and the chemists need to show how these products are made to be significantly safer for our families. Another issue is for every one article or newscast that shows the positive side of pesticide use, there are five others showing the perceived negatives. How do we get the message out there in a way that allows people to understand and encourages them to do some research for themselves?
Everything we do as human beings has and/or will be under scrutiny at some point. How have we overcome this in the past? Education is the main way that these misconceptions can be fought. Perhaps pesticides should be studied and analyzed in high school, along with other items that were under the microscope not that long ago. It can also be as simple as an information day at the local grocery store to show the benefits and drawbacks of pesticide use versus organic farming. If we give society the information in a way that is meaningful to them, we have to hope that they will understand and learn just how important pesticides are not only to growing food but to society as a whole. The industry is constantly making changes to ensure we keep people as safe as possible and do not disturb the delicate ecological balance.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada