Remember the whole outrage against pink slime?
USDA officials deemed it “pink slime” based on it’s appearance. Food activists claimed it was some “mystery substance” being secretly inserted into our food and it wasn’t safe. There was a lot of outrage on the internet. Lots of companies vowed to stop using it.
Then, of course, the truth came out. Pink slime was legitimate, useful, and perfectly safe.
Now, the pink slime producers, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) are suing ABC news, the USDA, and various others for damages based on defamation. BPI claims they had a serious economic backlash based on news stories and statements by the defendants (yeah, no kidding). As a result of the hysteria, BPI was forced to close 3 factories and lay off 700 people.
Unfortunately, that’s what happens when the news is based on sensationalism and absolute nonsense: people get hurt. There are real world consequences to these things.
Whether the lawsuit will be successful is not certain, but I think it reminds that we need to be prepared to explain agricultural processes and how things work. No one else is going to be an advocate for agriculture. Those in and familiar with the industry need to do it. Next time, hopefully the inaccuracy can be corrected right away.