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11/8/2002

Bet the Farm!

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:28 am

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Columbus, Ohio’s Center of Science and Industry claims to be among the country’s most highly respected science centers. Browsing through their website, they do look like a great educational resource for the people of Ohio. One of their exhibits, though, has been co-opted by industry to mis-educate the patrons. Bet the Farm is an on-line board game (requiring Flash) that states “successful farming today requires one thing above all else: making intelligent decisions.” In playing this game, you are a farmer who has to make a series of decisions about what to raise, how to raise it, and how to sell it. Random events add a bit of luck to the mix. So far, so good. From the very first question, though, it was clear whose agenda this educational experience was furthering. Crop and animal diversity was discouraged, preventative antibiotics, hormones, bio-engineered seed, and high levels of fertilizer, herbicide, and insecticide were encouraged. It was not even possible to choose organic methods. Choosing as few of the industrial options as it allows always leads to massive crop failure and financial ruin. It is possible to make a lot of money in the game, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but only if you are a good patron of the chemical companies. (It’s not that way in real life, of course.) The exhibit is sponsored by the “agricultural councils” of Ohio, and there is no evidence that natural farming was ever considered.

Play the game some, and if you agree with me, tell them what you think about mis-educating people about the intelligent way to farm.

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