Crops Lifestyle Technology

Farm Babe: Laura Prepon’s tweet got derailed in so many ways

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I really wish there were more celebrities out there who embraced the biotechnology and the benefits behind modern agriculture.

When was the last time we saw a real commercial farmer on a mainstream television show? How often do celebrities get on real working larger-scale farms? The answer is most likely close to zero, while farmers make up less than 2 percent of the population of North America and their voices are easily drowned out by misinformation.

Earlier this year I wrote an article called “Top 8 pro-science and pro-farmer celebrities.” Of these celebrity voices, Iowa farm boy turned actor Ashton Kutcher made the cut. He always wanted to be a geneticist and sings praises to genetic engineering and technologies such as CRISPR. Yay Ashton Kutcher!

Unfortunately for his “That ’70s Show” co-star Laura Prepon, the love for truth and science isn’t mutual. This was one of her most recent tweets:

This is a prime example of someone with a big following (908,000 people) creating problems; making false statements about agriculture. She got pretty destroyed on Twitter for this post and has nearly 3,000 comments on Instagram. Here are some of the tweets replying to her:

Tweets such as Prepon’s make our jobs as farmers so much more difficult, while completely forgetting the fact that we are so fortunate to have such a safe, abundant food supply. First-world problems indeed, facts be damned.

It’s true that corn is one of the 10 genetically engineered crops that are commercially available to farmers in the U.S. But this isn’t a bad thing. It’s thanks to GMOs that crops are higher quality and allow farmers to use fewer chemicals and safer herbicides. She brags about her organic corn, but organic does not mean free from pesticides. There are plenty of chemicals that are approved for organic farming … and want to know why? Behold:

Would you want to eat that? Didn’t think so.

Yes, farmers have to have the ability to manage pests. Plants are living and often cannot protect themselves. Just like us as living humans, we need bug spray, nutrients, food, sunscreen, etc. to thrive. These are products we use to protect our health, and plants have similar needs. So, let’s not demonize crop protection, OK? It’s thanks to these products we can all eat, and without them, up to 80 percent of the world’s food production would be lost, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Do we want to prevent deforestation and preserve our farmland? Good yields are important for that.

She claims crops are full of all kinds of pesticides and although they’re used, the dose always makes the poison. On our farm we do grow GMO corn, and the amount of herbicide we spray is approximately 22 ounces per acre. This is equivalent to about two beer cans’ worth over an area of land the size of a football field. We spray two days out of an entire year.

I wonder how many weeds Laura has ever pulled in her life or how many acres she grows? While claiming what farmers grow is “awful” stuff, I wonder how she feels about the billions of people around the world living in poverty who are wondering where their next meal is coming from? It irks me when wealthy and privileged people such as her create unnecessary fear about food, while farmers proudly eat what they grow.

She claims corn is one of the most “heavily sprayed,” but that’s not the truth whatsoever. Many other crops, even ones that are organic or non-GMO, use more chemicals than GMO corn, but all of our food is safe and within allowable limits. The “GMO Bt” trait allows farmers such as us to eliminate insecticide spray. (Check out the comparison I did on GMO vs organic corn here.). Prepon also states that GMO crops are sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, but the term “pesticide” is an umbrella term that encompasses insecticide, herbicide, and fungicide (among others), so right away she explains crop protection inaccurately.

Lastly, the corn in the photo on her tweet doesn’t even look good. It looks small, short, thin — kinda weird looking. Good for her for purchasing whatever she would like to eat at the farmers market, but her choice shouldn’t dictate and influence others. As a corn farmer myself, I will never tell Laura Prepon how to be a better actress. I’m not an expert in acting. She should show farmers the same respect by connecting and learning from us, as famers are damn good at their jobs. Let them do what they do best.

Laura, please give Ashton Kutcher a call.

 

Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.

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