Don’t Berfunkle That Ag Term

While teaching in the 1980s, I used an education film called Berfunkle. I can no longer access the short animation, but memory tells me it was creative, clever, and focused on semantics. It used a nonsense term—berfunkle—to demonstrate the pitfalls of ambiguous definitions and slanted connotations. A word can be misused and misinterpreted—it can mean different things to different people.
Nowadays certain food and agriculture words are getting berfunkled. Terms such as organic, biotech, natural, sustainable, factory farm, genetically engineered, free range (and many more) are twisted around according to someone’s slant. Agendas get promoted while plenty of people still suffer from poor nutrition or outright starvation.
The good news is that many other people are simply embracing best practices. They look for science-based, environmentally sound production techniques to provide nutritious, abundant food for a hungry world. 
Ag/Science Research Publications
Whatever terms we use, topics about feeding the world come up often in CAST papers and presentations. On Friday, September 28, CAST will host two sessions on Capitol Hill to roll out its newest issue paper, Food Loss and Waste. Check here for details, and check the CAST website to access the full report starting on Friday. The publications section of this site also offers many free, science-based papers about food and agriculture.
Food Production Techniques and Presentations
Production techniques are important in the fight against hunger. Many people are focusing on best practices, from conservation techniques that sustain output and economic values to the use of genetically engineered foods to the pursuit of high yields and the effort to conserve natural habitats.
The 2018 World Food Prize will involve many events regarding food production in October, and CAST will host a morning event during the gatherings on Wednesday, October 17. Marty Matlock will receive the Borlaug CAST Communication Award and lead a session about sustainability–techniques, technologies, and ecosystems.
In some parts of the world, positive steps are occurring, and agriculture is leading the way. But the needs are still constant and vital. Hungry people can’t eat words no matter what spin is applied to them. Terms are one thing, but best practices—regardless of their names—are the key. No need to berfunkle around with global food security.
by dan gogerty (top graphic from

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