If the media continually says it is, is it?
Marketers know that perception is often the deciding factor in how people relate to a product. If the media reports a certain way about a product, and does it long and often, that product becomes that perception in the public mind — or so it seems.
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) thinks that’s the case in how the public is rapidly coming to perceive the alleged efficacy, or even danger posed by certain corn-based products. Rick Tolman, NCGA chief executive officer posted an opinion piece on the subject to the NCGA Web site, May 18.
Tolman gave as his examples high fructose corn syrup and ethanol. He wrote: “Two pieces of research that were dropped this week and then picked up in the mainstream media clearly demonstrate that there’s something off in the way research is (1) conducted, (2) summarized and (3) reported to the public.”
According to Tolman, in the first case, researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) announced in May that they had discovered that high fructose corn syrup “may have deleterious effects on cognitive ability.”
Tolman said these researchers made the pronouncement after feeding laboratory rats what he described as “enormous quantities of a “fructose solution,’” so they could see how well the rats did at running through a maze. Tolman said UCLA’s news released stressed high fructose corn syrup, while the research reports itself did not even mention it.
For his part, Tolman suggests that the so-called research means nothing in the real world, but the media do not report it that way. One physician told Tolman that you would have to drink more than 50 cans of soda daily (sometimes we might think our kids are capable of that) to achieve the equivalent fructose amount the rates were given.
NCGA was also concerned about media reports on ethanol. Tolman said the automobile and oil industries got together recently to launch an attack on ethanol that fizzled so badly “even the U.S. government shot back.” An entity called “Coordinating Research Council” (CFC) published a report looking at the impact of certain selective ethanol blends on engines.
Tolman wrote: “While the report found things to concern those who funded it, the U.S. Department of Energy would have none of it, calling the study ‘significantly flawed,’ because it ‘failed to establish a proper control group,’ a standard component of scientific, data-driven testing and a necessity to determine statistical significance for any results.”
For instance, the engines, Tolman noted, were tested against E0, “a fuel that is not very common. E10, the de-facto fuel on the market, was not even used at all in the testing to provide the right control. Laughably, one of the three engines that were tested with straight gasoline failed the test. So, automotive fuel without ethanol apparently has a 33.3 percent failure rate.”
He said, “While it would be hard for the UCLA researchers … to have made sure all rats were equally healthy, it would have been easier for the folks at CRC to make sure that had good engines to test in the first place. Apparently, they could not bother with this trifle.”
Now, you could write off Tolman’s pique to that of a committed corn man, but the examples go to show that just because it is reported a certain way on a broadcasted basis, it ain’t always so.
I’ll see ya.