The Union of Concerned Scientists is an organization we have much respect for, so we were thrilled to come across this UC Food Observer Q&A with Ricardo Salvador, its senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program.
- “At first, I turned to studying science and agriculture on the mistaken assumption that technological knowledge would help indigenous people to better produce their own food. As I gained experience, I realized there are historical and structural reasons for the great injustices we still see in the food system.”
- “I think there is a false dichotomy between the supposed “objectivity” of science and the intentionality of “advocacy.” From the moment we ask a “scientific” question and determine what we’re going to investigate and how, we’ve already made value-laden decisions. We’re explicitly stating what matters most to us. As a human pursuit, there is always a degree of subjectivity in the “scientific process.” I learned this well during the time I worked for the land-grant university in Iowa.”
- “Because private interests are leveraging public investment, any pretense of subjectivity in the research agenda has disappeared. That is the contest being waged: between public and private research interests. Sadly, it often is not apparent to taxpayers that this struggle over public dollars and the research agenda of their public universities is taking place at all, and, of course, the public relations and fundraising efforts of these universities are very self-serving.”
- “Any incoming president will have to worry about national security, widening income inequality, immigration, energy independence and the threat of global warming. All these things are connected to the food system.”
- “When we say we want “good value” in our products — that term is a euphemistic part of our language — we usually mean that we want to squeeze every component of the food value chain as much as possible. I hope our work makes this tendency more visible and less tenable. Our food system can’t be just or sustainable if it is predicated on paying as little as we can to farmers, farm laborers and food chain workers, then devaluing the worth of soil, clean water, clean air and public health.”