Monday, July 27, 2009

Corrupt Agricultural Economists?

A recent Feedstuffs article, Panelists discuss beef industry past, future (July 20, 2009) made the statement, "He said areas where the academic community might help enhance the image of animal agriculture..."

The statement was made by a former professor, and what a shame it was. The journalist also paraphrased this former professor as saying, "Owens believes the academic community needs to deepen public knowledge and appreciation of animal agriculture."

What this former professor is talking about is corruption. Not illegal corruption, but corruption nevertheless. Should any professor feel obliged to act as a spokesperson for any industry? Is it the duty of a land grant university researcher to promote any private industry? I think the average consumer would be horrified at the thought of a university professor being at the beck and call of private firms producing food. I am horrified at the thought. I am a public servant, not a servant of any industry. I work for consumers and private producers.

Fortunately, my status as a tenured professor allows me to conduct my affairs with dignity. Should anyone question the value of this institution called tenure, they should ask themselves whether I should be allowed to pursue my job with dignity, or if I should misrepresent my occuption as an objective researcher to promote the interests of a private industry.