June 6, 2016 – ASAS is accepting letters from the membership for publication in Taking Stock. Below is our first submission. If you would like to submit a letter for consideration, please follow these guidelines.
Dear Fellow Members of the American Society of Animal Science,
Every year I look forward to our annual regional Midwest Meeting, as it is a great venue for the most recent swine nutrition research. I was not disappointed this year, as there were many interesting papers presented. However, I was disheartened to hear discussions, feedback, or “buzz” surrounding “over-branding” of presentations this year. As a member of the allied industry and a relatively seasoned presenter at ASAS meetings, I feel that we could be sending the wrong message to our future scientists. Furthermore, is this “over-branding” message creating distrust among consumers?
I have been trained and reminded yearly as a presenter not to over-brand my presentations, especially since I work in the allied industry. The rationale for this is that scientific meetings are for unbiased reporting of the facts. Science is already scrutinized and not trusted. “In science we trust…up to a point” by Adam Rutherford (The Guardian, August 22, 2015) points out how easy it is for people to mistrust data as ‘We are fed fudgings, misunderstandings, errors and fabrications every day.’ The author goes on to state that science can still be trusted for now, but there still is need for reform.
I will be the first to admit that there is a fine balance between needing allied-industry support for our scientific meetings and allowing the allied industry to deter from the true purpose of the meetings. I feel the society has done its best over the years to maintain this balance, but individual speakers have given themselves a little more leeway. Using scientific meetings as a marketing platform sends the wrong message to future scientists. It also may suggest to our consumers that animal science research is about selling a specific product rather than making scientific-based decisions that ultimately impact their lives and well-being.
In closing, I urge our individual members to reconsider their future presentations to create a buzz that promotes scientific discovery rather than commercialization. We will do ourselves, our society, and ultimately our industry a disservice if we continue down the path of selling products rather than science at our meetings.
Casey L. Bradley