Industry and government must adjust to new findings, but policies should not be based on the latest Internet trend
By Cam Dahl
Published: January 25, 2016
What does “science based” mean? For both government policy and industry best practice, science based should mean that practices are based on rigorous scientific studies. Policies and regulations that veer off the science-based path put at risk the tools that make modern agriculture possible. So do production practices that do not rigorously follow scientifically developed guidelines.
But scientific review can sometimes be messy. Scientific consensus can shift and the “right” answer can change over time as new information becomes available. New research can disprove past points of view that were once thought to be valid.
What does this mean for policy-makers and the development of industry best management practices? Practically, this means that both industry and government must be willing to adjust practices and policies when new evidence comes to light.
For example, frequent summerfallow was once the common practice on the North American prairies. This practice has adjusted as new research and agriculture tools became available. The willingness of farmers to adapt has benefited the environment and improved economic returns.