Letter to the editor: Organic farming has health risks, too

At Iowa State University, science and technology should be taught with objectivity – not subjectivity. Good science is the gathering and evaluation of information without the distortion of personal feelings and prejudices.

Recently, two farmers were on campus to explain to students how they farm. The trouble with this event was the embedded subjectivity of their claims.

Ms. Wilber, of Wilber’s Northside Market, made the following statement; “it is very important that students know where their food is coming from, especially with the food – borne illness outbreaks from factory farms”

I have three concerns about that statement. First, the term “factory farm” has no finite definition. It is purely subjective and used to create anxiety amongst consumers. Second, management should have allowed students to gather information from a “factory” farmer. Students should be provided with information from both sides of an issue in order to make good evaluations. Finally, and most importantly, the food contamination accusation attached to “factory farms” creates a misconception that organic, pre-modern farming practices are devoid of such concern. Most organic food production is manure based. As such, that food can easily be contaminated with e-coli and salmonella bacteria. A Google search of “organic food deaths” will support my claim.

I hope that in the future, Iowa State University can live up to the claim of being the reputable institution of science and technology that we alums take pride in.