A Controversial Opinion Piece

In the March 10 issue of Agweek, I included an opinion piece that attacks ethanol and its production mandate in the Renewable Fuels Standard. “Ethanol mandate hurts environment” (www.agweek.com/event/article/id/22868/) was written by an executive of a group known for its loud opposition of ethanol.

I got a few responses from readers on it: one angry it was printed at all and requesting information be deleted from it; one who just wanted to discuss his opinion and disappointment that the letter writer included only her side of the issue; and a few who submitted rebuttal pieces, which is always appreciated and welcome.

Agweek has readers who are for ethanol and readers who are against it. Agweek has readers who are for pesticide use on crops and readers who are against it for a multitude of reasons, including contamination of organic crops or preserving honeybee colonies. We straddle the line between passionate sides on several hot button issues.

So Agweek printed an opinion piece that would please some of its readers and anger others. We have published countless pieces in support of ethanol and the RFS, many of which tout their side of the story. And rightfully so — it’s an opinion piece, the perfect opportunity to do it.

It’s difficult to read the passionate opinion of someone on the other side of an issue, when your own opinion is just as passionate. But doesn’t reading the other side’s opinion help shape and perhaps reinforce your own? Doesn’t it help you think more critically about your opinion and doesn’t it help you see what their points are and develop your arguments against those points? I would argue that it does. It’s healthy to listen to people who feel differently about something than you do.

So if this article angered you, write to me about it. Submit your own opinion piece: lgibson@agweek.com.

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