Tag Archives: technology

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

While perusing the Internet the other day, I came across a great quote from Abraham Lincoln – “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” Of course, the irony is that there were obviously no computers – and furthermore no Internet – in Abe’s day, but it made a great point. With the advent of the Internet, we (as a society) have gotten lazy and careless about what we post and what we believe. The same day, a friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook that claimed Monsanto refuses to serve GM (genetically modified) foods in their own company cafeterias. There was nothing to reveal the source of this information. There was no evidence or proof to back up the claim. And yet, there was a feeding frenzy in the way people ate this up and forwarded it on as fact.

Alex FBlog photo

I took the time to do some of my own research on this subject and confirmed that it is, indeed, false (metabunk.org, monsantoblog.com). It all stemmed from a story about ONE particular Monsanto location (out of hundreds), and the claim was made by Sutcliffe Catering Group, NOT Monsanto employees. Then Greenpeace (an organization with an anti-GMO agenda) jumped on board and ran with the story to the point that every time it was told, more exaggerations were added to the story until the final product is a simple photo of a cafeteria brimming with tasty looking foods and one line about how Monsanto won’t even serve its own GM foods in its own cafeterias. Without fail, people seemed to pass this false image on with the click of a button, believing it to be true.  

People have always feared new technologies and things they do not understand. That’s nothing new. Isaac Asimov capitalized upon this to sell millions of books about robots conquering the human race. What’s new is the accessibility of the Internet to promote this fear mongering with the click of a button. People have a tendency to believe what they read without ever questioning it or researching its authenticity. I admit, I have fallen into this realm at times, usually forwarding a political post that is maybe a half truth. That’s the other thing to be aware of: it’s easy to make something look or sound bad when it is taken out of context. I am much more keenly aware now and scrutinize heavily whatever I may choose to pass on. I call out friends when their posts are inaccurate. It truly is a challenge to sort out fact from fiction and definitely easier to just click that “forward” button. However, it is our responsibility to make sure what we are posting is accurate.

Aside from checking with experts in the industry to confirm or deny the truthfulness of statements, make sure you check those posts against “fact-checking sites,” which do the research for you.  You’ll be surprised at how much you read that is “sort of true.” That is to say, maybe they got the headline right but most of the story is wrong. Check your friends’ posts and people who leave comments on stories. Don’t be afraid to call them out when they are wrong…just make sure you have the evidence to back it! Here are some fact-checking sites to help in your endeavor: Snopes, Fact Check, Truth or Fiction and About.com Urban Legends.

Smithsonian Documents Ag Innovation

Technology is ever changing, and that doesn’t exclude the agriculture industry. That is why the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History has recently developed a website where the public can share stories about topics including: precision farming, foodborne illness tracking, environmental concerns, government practices, crop irrigation, biotechnology and hybrid seeds.

The Smithsonian’s Agricultural Innovation and Heritage Archive site partners with Farm Bureau, reaching out  to America’s farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses to collect stories, photographs and ephemera to accurately portray our country’s agricultural heritage. The items will also play a role in the “American Enterprise” exhibition, an 8,000-square-foot multimedia experience that focuses on the importance of business and innovation in the U.S. from the mid 1700s to today. The exhibit is set to open in May 2015.Pat C

Tennessee farmer Pat Campbell provided the exhibit with its first donation. He submitted a selection of photographs and a computer cow tag and reader unit from his dairy farm to show the changes in technology from the hand-labor intensive process to the computer-run operation.  He also shared his personal story of how technology has made his operation run more efficiently and safely.

To learn more about the Smithsonian/Farm Bureau partnership and how you can participate, read this week’s Focus on Agriculture column by Erin Anthony.

Who is going to feed the world?

With a growing population the need for food is becoming more of a serious problem everyday. Who is going to grow all the extra food and on what acres? Time magazine had an article in the June 11th issue that was titled Want to Become Rich? Become a Farmer.

The article quotes investment guru Jim Rogers, who predicts that farm income will rise dramatically in the next few decades, faster than other industries. “The essence of his argument is this: We don’t need more bankers. What we need are more farmers. The invisible hand will do its magic,” Time declares.

What this article forgets to mention is that the costs of the seed, fertilizer, and transportation costs to mention a few of the farmer’s “inputs” are also dramatically going to increase. The farmer is not making the huge profits that this article is portraying.  The farm income might be increasing, but so are all the additional costs that it takes to raise the crop and get it to your grocery store.   

In the article, Rogers also says, “The world has got a serious food problem.”  I completely agree the world is going to need to find a new way to produce more food on the same number or even less acres. Two factors that are going to affect the farmers ability to grow enough food is going to be burdens put on the farmers by the EPA and the ability to use new technology.  You can count on it that the farmer is going to do everything that he/she can to make sure that there is enough food for this growing population!