Industry organizations rallied in defense of the industry following publication of a TIME magazine cover story extolling the virtues of organic farm production and decrying what it sees as the exploitation, manipulation and greed of modern ag methods. Entitled “The Real Cost Of Cheap Food” (read it at www.time.com/time/health.html), the cover artwork is a package of ground beef that carries the warning: “CAUTION. This hamburger may be hazardous to your health.”

The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) says the article “repeats a wide range of ‘factory farming’ claims, including the common myths about modern beef production’s over-reliance on corn and antibiotics, the distorting effect of farm subsidies and poor farm animal living conditions.”

CBB says its issues management and media relations teams had heard from a TIME research assistant at the end of July about a pending article. “At that time, it was positioned as an article reporter Bryan Walsh was writing about food safety and antibiotics. The research assistant specifically wanted the industry’s comment on the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) and antibiotic use in the beef industry.

“Through actions by the Beef Checkoff Program, an interview was quickly arranged, after which, Walsh contacted the team directly to fact check how much it costs to raise a steer to harvest weight. When pressed, Walsh revealed his story would address other issues, including beef and nutrition and the environment. Again, Walsh was told he needed to hear from beef industry experts before running his story,” CBB says.

CBB says it arranged interviews for Walsh with specialists and producers, and provided him with fact sheets and research about beef choices, beef nutrition and the environment. Of the six expert spokespeople offered up, Walsh included only one quote about antibiotic use: “[Resistance] is the result of human use and not related to veterinary use.”

To counter this attempt to spread misinformation about the beef industry, CBB says cattle producers should urge the public to find information refuting these types of claims at ExploreBeef.org.

Meanwhile, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) – www.consumerfreedom.com – blasted the article for being “full of falsehoods and misinformation calculated to capitalize on fear and guilt.”

CCF points out: “Inevitably, restrictions on what we grow for food and how it’s raised have the effect of shrinking the available food supply. (Even Walsh admits that no one goes to the farmers’ market for bargains.) Stocking a pantry with organic foods is a lifestyle choice – a luxury that only a privileged few can afford. And ultimately, it doesn’t have the intended health effect, as research has shown organic is no safer and no more nutritious than conventionally grown produce.”

And, to read a letter from the American Meat Institute to TIME, go to: www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/52889.
-- CBB and CCF releases