An Open Letter to The Editor of The New York Times

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We live in a time that is often dubbed the Information Age filled with up to the second news at our fingertips. The feeds grow faster and forums have grown larger with the opportunity at any moment to share your opinion or perspective. I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I welcome any conversation or debate, so long as there is data or evidence to support. Journalism is a profession that has a legendary history filled with integrity and moments of clarity and solidarity in times of war and crisis.

Great journalists and publications present news and information in a fair and balanced manner – I consider your publication one of these. Information is usually gathered from sources on both sides of an issue or event and it is backed by facts that are meticulously checked for accuracy and corroborated with their sources. The information is then presented in an objective manner.

According to your mission statement: “The core purpose of The New York Times is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information. Producing content of the highest quality and integrity is the basis for our reputation and the means by which we fulfill the public trust and our customers’ expectations.”

I was disturbed by an article that your publication ran that seemed to lack any of the above elements. Now I am also aware of the role of Opinion Editorial pieces, and their place in world of journalism. It’s unfortunate though that this particular piece was indeed found in your business section not in the editorials, leaving the unfortunate opportunity for it to be taken as fact,

The Article,  “Another ‘Too Big to Fail’ System in GMOs”

This headline alone creates an incredible bias in approaching an already extremely polarizing topic. These eye-catching first words stick out and leave little to the imagination about the angle the article is written from. The co-authors sharing the byline are in fact not of physical science backgrounds as one would expect by the expert assumption in the title. They are however experts in economics allowing them to accurately reference their own predictions in regards to the financial crisis they’re comparing the GMO “System” too. Despite their standing in this field, a risk engineer and a chief investment officer don’t strike me as independently knowledgeable sources on the global food system or farming methods.

The word fallacy sticks out as a very curious and biased word choice. It’s used in the article to support the inferences being made without actual evidence.

A fallacy is defined as a mistaken belief, especially one based on an unsound argument. A sound argument is supported by facts leaving little to no doubt that the argument formulated holds validity. Throughout the writers’ examination of the five fallacies they are facing with the growing popularity of GMOs , there is no credited quotations or pieces of data with a reference to follow up on.

It’s curious that in the opening sentence they reference their expert analysis that the financial system at the time was “unsustainable”. A sad and factually true observation of mine is that this is the only occurrence of them considering sustainability on a topic that begs for it to be discussed.

The global food system is the true system that is “Too Big to Fail”. It must be sustainable to support the global population and economy. The comparison to the Irish potato famine is an irresponsible and confusing non sequitur. The Irish potato famine is actually known now following the publication of a Genomics research article, “The rise and fall of the Phytophthora infestans lineage that triggered the Irish potato famine“, to be caused by a pathogen, P. infestans, that originated in South America. The use of the term monoculture is applied correctly to the potato famine, but insinuates that “GMO system” will only be made up of one single crop. If the intention of this statement was to assume eventually all crops with be a single strain that is genetically engineered this is also incorrect.

I’m not a headstrong supporter of organics or conventional methods including the use of agricultural technology, which can mean the use of GMOs. I am an avid supporter of sustainability and productive conversation. It saddens me that agenda driven information has muddied the waters, polarizing even deeper the spectrum surrounding farming methods and more importantly, a healthy food supply.

I am a supporter of reliable, factual reporting. This allows myself and other readers the opportunity to further pursue information and educate ourselves with the facts you’ve presented in your publication – as just that facts.

Thank you for your time and I hope to see your publication return to its traditionally high standards of content and reporting.

References

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