By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Communication Director: Last Year (July 2015), Pew Research Center conducted a study revealing major gaps between the public and scientists on key issues. This despite broadly similar views about the overall place of American science.

It’s these gaps that are even more reason farmers and ranchers must regularly engage with the public and our network of friends.

Curious what issues Pew Research found major gaps in? On the scientific side, those interviewed for this study were scientists connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) I highlight their study below.


Note the huge gap for "Safe to eat foods grown with pesticides." The public supports by 28% versus scientists' 68%. Despite the fact that organic farming also uses pesticides, the idea that foods grown with pesticides is scary to the average American is one of these gap issues where we need to keep discussing the truth of this issue with the public. 

The Rules of Engagement

So what do we do to engage? Remember The Center for Food Integrity’s (CFI) three-step process for engaging in meaningful conversation.

  1. Listen– Actively listen, without judgment, for agreement and points of connection to understand how their concern is tied to their underlying values.
  2. Ask– Ask questions to invite dialogue, clarify their perspective and I would personally add, hunt for those shared values.
  3. Share– Share your values-based perspective and provide relevant information to foster understanding and reinforce connection.

Call it what you want, but in order to align the science with the public’s concern, we need to share the truth about today’s agriculture. If we don’t, we’ll lose the public trust.

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