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Living without the truth

In her article "Living without meat," Nicole Reising says: "I soon learned that there was another great motive to becoming vegetarian--the negative environmental effects of meat production."

While there are many advantages to the digital era of the Internet, propagating truth is not one of them. Anyone can have a blog. There's no intelligence or ethical test required. Consequently, if the above statement had been on any old blog, it would have gone largely ignored.

This article, however, was found on the Environmental Protection Agency's "Greenversations" blog. Reising is an intern at EPA and a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.

The blog post drew the attention of the American Farm Bureau Federation, as well as other ag industry professionals. AFBF said in a statement: "While this is a position taken by an intern of the agency, EPA should control its blog space. What is written on its blog comes across as its official position toward farmers and ranchers that it regulates and shows a terrible disregard for them and the agriculture industry."

The post does include a disclaimer that the opinions and comments are those of the author and do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement or action. The disclaimer also says it does not verify the accuracy of the contents of the blog.

All Americans are entitled to their opinions, but EPA holds accountability--disclaimer or not, truth or not.

And that's the main problem with the blog post--it holds many half-truths. For example, Reising says there are many negative environmental impacts of raising animals for meat, including fossil fuels, water, land overuse, water contamination due to animal waste and grain and corn grown for animal feed instead of addressing world hunger.

But the EPA's own website seems to contradict these statements. It says: "Since beef cattle can graze forages in the open range and pasturelands, they serve a unique role in providing high-quality protein for human consumption from byproducts and forage sources that humans and non-ruminant animals do not consume."

In addition, EPA points out that proper manure management can provide valuable fertilizer and improved soil condition. Perhaps Reising does not realize that organic soybeans, which are the source of her tofu, are most likely being fertilized with manure. But it appears Reising doesn't want to be bothered with details like that. The EPA shouldn't allow negligence like that to happen again.

You can read Reising's entire blog post at: http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2010/04/20/living-without-meat.

Holly Martin can be reached by phone at 620-227-1806, or by e-mail at hmartin@hpj.com.

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