When actress Fran Drescher starred in 90’s sitcom The Nanny, her character Fran Fine was credited with fixing a fractured family and teaching lessons like the value of courtesy. Ms. Drescher should have learned from her own example. That quality has been missing as she uses her famously shrill voice to attack farmers.
“GMO farms should & wil be banned & converted 2 non-GMO. ITS R HEALTH!” she tweeted late last month. With that tweet, Ms. Drescher joined a crusade of anti-science activists seeking to discredit anyone who supports genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). I have been one of the targets of this movement. My crime is running the website TheFarmersDaughterUSA.com where I share the story of my family’s farm. For that, I’ve been called a paid shill for corporate interests.
“Spinning Food,” a report funded by the environmental organization Friends of the Earth and released in July of 2015, reviewed the recent increase in communications spending by various agricultural groups. The report alleges that “big agriculture” and “agrochemical” companies have sought to mislead the public by increasing their communication budgets. It goes on to allege that the agriculture industry pays people to pose as ordinary moms, consumers and farmers to blog about their support for GMOs and conventional agriculture.
Out of just three blogs used as examples of this paid front, Friends of the Earth named my website.
This could not be farther from the truth. I am the fourth generation to run our farm. My great-grandparents and grandparents purchased the property in the 1950’s. They left dirty factories in the city for the openness and beauty of orchards in the country. Since that time, our farm has undergone several transformations and shifts as the local agriculture economy has changed. We started with peaches and apples, transitioned to running and supplying our own farm market, and currently farm 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans.
Ultimately, my blog is about my family’s farm. I explain to readers how and why we make certain choices for our business. I highlight the science supporting our position. I describe the decision-making process for our farm. I even take on the most prevalent fallacies promoted by opponents of modern agriculture. No one is paying me for my stories or financially supporting my blog as part of a public relations effort. This is just my story.
The irony here is thick: “Spinning Food” blasts the agriculture industry for spending money on marketing and public relations efforts to counter the smear campaigns by multi-million dollar environmental organizations and anti-science groups. Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth brought in a whopping $7 million in 2014 to spend on these types of bogus reports and campaigns.
Admittedly, I did make $100 on my blog in 2014, which was all spent (and then some!) on paying for web hosting and a site designer.
The former The Beautician and the Beast star is merely the latest crank to accuse me of many outlandish sins.
Generally, when activists run out of arguments to oppose my position on biotechnology or other modern farming methods, they usually resort to accusations of being a paid industry insider as a way to discredit me. Oddly enough, one Facebook user even claimed he had previously outed me as a man working for Monsanto in St. Louis. It’s particularly ironic when celebrities like Ms. Drescher make these accusations – since many of them could afford to buy all the farmland in our state.
False allegations are annoying, but are generally tame compared with the hateful comments I’ve received from activists opposed to our methods of farming. Various comments on my blog have wished that my family falls ill and hoped that I come to some type of disastrous end. I’ve been told to go to Hell, enjoy my poison, and that I’m evil.
Environmental groups like Friends of the Earth have misled folks like Ms. Drescher. They claim regular, average farmers are producing food in a way that will destroy our environment and hurt those who eat it. The comments directed at me are a result of the message these activist groups have been pushing.
Fortunately, farmers, unlike celebrities, aren’t after fame or fortune. We farm because we love what we do – growing food and feeding the country. We care about the land and use technology like GMOs to help protect it.
I’m just a farmer’s daughter trying to share the story of my family’s farm. Hopefully, activists will let me.