Science magazine which is a publication of the American Association of for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently published an article titled “Agriculture is not a dirty word.” I’m amazed and delighted!

I am amazed because stories like this are rare in main stream scientific publications as they are usually focused on answering very basic questions and looking for the next great discovery while those of us in the agricultural sciences are more focused on the problems of today and the next decade. Issues like feeding people economically and safely are the primary drivers rather than a cure for disease or new method of communication. The basic sciences are exciting and attract attention which generates. In contrast we take the presence of food for granted until there is a problem such as E. coli or Salmonella.

We must have both. The average person does not think of agriculture as “science” but rather relates to it as an established enterprise that just happens. The result is complete ignorance of the importance and the need to support it rather than destroy it. Even land grant universities which were established, in part, to support agriculture are dropping the word and using names like “life sciences” to encourage financial support and attract students.

I think the Science Magazine article summarizes the issue very well by asking if “ the long run, does it really matter whether “agricultural scientists” are what we call the people who ensure a safe and plentiful food supply, clean water, and healthy soil? Maybe not, as long as this critical work is funded and accomplished. But as we move into a new era of shared accountability and responsibility, let’s keep in mind that agricultural sciences affect us all, and when agricultural science is thriving, our communities likely are thriving, too.”

Written by Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton
Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton teaches poultry science at Mississippi State University and directs the technical and market-coverage content of POULTRY magazine. This posting first appeared in