11 Jan 2015

Reply to an editorial

Readers expect to read facts in a newspaper -- maybe not the whole story, but as much of it as is practical, and all facts. Only on the editorial pages do we readers find opinions being presented as opinions. It's a good idea for opinions to be backed up by facts and science, but that doesn't always happen.

It didn't happen anyway in an opinion piece that appeared in the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper, where a student of geography at the local university wrote a column titled "No Need to Fear Genetically Modified Crops." Here's a link to her piece. It was clearly written but there's no books or research quoted to support her opinion.

The best thing about newspapers is how people can not only read them, but write for them. We can read opinion pieces and letters to the editor -- and we can write them ourselves as readers expressing our opinions. It's a good idea to support opinions by facts and science, in practical ways. You don't need to be a food scientist to have reasons for your opinions about food!

So I wrote a reply to the column, explaining why there is a need for more thorough testing of GMO crops. And it appeared in the editorial pages a few days later. You can click here to read my reply in the newspaper, or click here and scroll down to read it as a guest post on my partner's blog Farm Gate.

The fun part is that the book I quote from is at the public library. Most of the science I learn is from books written for everyone to understand -- real facts, written in plain words. I'm proud to find science books I've written in libraries, too. But reading my own opinion piece in the newspaper was like having a conversation on science with my neighbours.

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