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Scientists Want a Word with Farm Bureau's Stallman

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's tough to rattle a scientist's cage. But Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau, has found a way by scoffing repeatedly at the biblical calamities that climate change is predicted to bring down on agriculture. Stallman denies that climate change even exists and pounds the denier drum daily to the members of America's largest agriculture organization.

The Union of Concerned Scientists sent a letter (PDF) to Stallman Thursday requesting a meeting regarding the Farm Bureau's irresponsible stance on climate change. From the UOCS release announcing the letter:

As scientists concerned about the grave risks that climate change poses to the world and U.S. agriculture, we are disappointed that the American Farm Bureau has chosen to officially deny the existence of human-caused climate change when the evidence of it has never been clearer.

The letter then points out that scientific institutions worldwide have concluded that human activity is the primary cause of global warming. For example, 18 U.S. science organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Meteorological Society and the Crop Sciences Society of America, recently issued a joint statement declaring that "human activities are the primary driver" of climate change and "contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science."

The Union's letter stresses the threats that global warming poses to agriculture. It cites a 2009 federal report that concluded that any agricultural benefits of climate change would be more than offset by the harms -- including more frequent heat waves that would reduce crop yields and stress livestock, more extreme rainfall that would prevent spring planting and flood fields, and more widespread pest and weed infestations requiring costly pesticides and herbicides to keep them in check.

The scientists' letter presents a stark contrast with the opinions of climate change denier Christopher Horner, who will be the only scheduled speaker addressing the climate issue at the Farm Bureau's annual meeting starting this Sunday (Jan. 10) in Seattle. Horner is an attorney with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an industry-funded, anti-regulation think tank that has received millions of dollars over the last decade from the auto and oil companies, notably ExxonMobil, to try to block federal action on climate change.

The Farm Bureau's record on opposing good ideas is long and storied. Remember their 1958 platform? It "voiced opposition to  federal aid to education and to expansion of the federal highway system."


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