The invitation to Bayer's 10th Annual Ag Issues Forum in Phoenix, Ariz., last month promised the event would be good. The description said: "An astronaut, a football player, a futurist, a legislator and young consumers – scientists, innovative farmers, NGOs and marketers – our 10th annual Ag Issues Forum promises to deliver a challenging, thought-provoking and engaging look into the future of agriculture and food."
With a description like that and a chance to be in Phoenix during February, how could I not be excited? I was looking forward to discussing and learning more about issues near and dear to my heart and pocketbook.
Weeks after the event, two quotes still have me thinking:
"Misunderstanding leads to distrust" James Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP
Such a true statement, who are consumers supposed to trust? Let's be honest, people like to equate their food being grown by a man in overalls feeding his cows, walking his fields every day while his wife feeds corn from her apron to their chickens, but farming is a business, it has to be.
If we are transparent, we are shills for big companies. If we are quiet we are hiding something. Consumers are under the impression we have sold our souls to big companies, and companies only want to industrialize farming for pure profit.
Perception and reality are two different things. Most people who long for the "good ole days" weren't there; all generations have challenges. So what is the answer to gaining consumer trust?
"We think we're experts in everything because we are exposed to so much." Ashley Reaver, lead nutrition scientist, Inside Tracker
We no longer have to rely on the Encyclopedia Britannica and the 11 p.m. news, we are an up-to-the-second society. Not only are we immediately in the know, but at our fingertips is more information, both correct and incorrect, than we could have ever imagined, even 10 years ago. Think about that!
Related: Building consumer trust worldwide
There was a lot of talk about "millennials" but so much of what was said about that generation can be said for other generations as well; it has become how we as a people today are. We have become a society of not only needing to acquire information but one that spreads it at the speed of light, without scientific proof or facts to back it up. Is that damaging our science literacy?
Society and the world are both continually changing, experiencing growing pains along the way. The unbridled access to all this information is overwhelming.
My question is: How do we promote responsible use of it in the future? If you have a thought, you can leave it below using the comment feature.
The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.