Depending on whom you ask, Dr. Temple Grandin is either a genius or a fraud.
To thousands of professional animal scientists, producers and processors, she is the nation’s preeminent scholar on issues of animal handling, welfare and wellbeing. To her detractors, she has most recently been painted as self-aggrandizing, and overly eager to abandon sound science to “mob rule” as the guiding principle behind sound animal husbandry.
To hear Grandin describe her values, research and principles in her own words, she is the ultimate realist, advocating a balance of science and perception as the next critical step in the evolving relationship between food producers and consumers.
“Most of the time I want to use science,” Grandin explained in this week’s edition of Feedstuffs In Focus, the weekly podcast of big issues in agriculture. “But then you get into things like an animal living in a box where it can’t turn around for most of its life, and that’s a degree of confinement people just aren’t going to accept.”
She related a story where a consumer from Texas likened the issue of gestation stalls in pork production to his own hunting dogs, telling Grandin that he would never put his dogs in a space that small.
Grandin said that with the vast majority of consumers she meets and deals with, people are generally curious about food production, and open to learning how and why various practices are employed on farms and in processing facilities. To best balance that curiosity with the sound science underpinning good animal husbandry, she said transparency is critical.
“I commend places like Fair Oaks Dairy in Indiana and hope they build the new Pig Adventure, because we have to open up the doors and show the public that we are doing the right things,” she said.
Click here to listen to Grandin’s conversation with Feedstuffs editor Andy Vance in the latest edition of Feedstuffs In Focus, and read more about the balance between science and perception in the April 23rd issue of Feedstuffs.