State of Science :: Events & Presentations
Debate on the "Motion" -- Organic Food is Marketing Hype
Author(s): Debate Produced by:
A spirited debate occurred April 13, 2010 in New York City on the "motion" that "Organic food is marketing hype." The Oxford-style debate was part of the Intelligence Squared debate series co-sponsored by the Rosenkrantz Foundation, NPR, Bloomberg Television, and Newsweek magazine.
The Bloomberg TV broadcasts of a 60-minute version of the two-hour debate began Monday, April 19th, and were repeated about 15 times during the week of April 19th. These broadcasts reach 300 million households globally.
The debate was also be heard on over 200 National Public Radio (NPR) stations.
The full unedited transcript of the debate is now available. DVDs of the full debate will be available in May, 2010 from Intelligence Squared.
Three panelists that argued for the "motion" were Dennis Avery, Director of the Center for Global Issues; Blake Hurst, a Missouri farmer and freelance writer; and, Lord John Krebs, former chairman of the U.K. Food Standards Agency.
The three individuals that argued against the "motion" are pictured (upper right) and included Jeffrey Steingarten, the Vogue magazine food critic; Urvashi Rangan, a senior scientist at Consumers Union; and, the Center's Chuck Benbrook.
The debate was moderated by John Donvan, an ABC News Nighline correspondent.
An audience of around 500 voted on the "motion" prior to the start of the debate and again at its conclusion. Before the debate, the vote was --
21% for the motion
45% against the motion, and
Immediately after the debate, the audience in the Skirball Center auditorium on New York University voted again --
21% for the motion
69% against the motion, and
10% were still undecided.
The organizers noted in post-debate commentary that this was the most decisive victory for one side in an Intelligence Squared debate since the beginning of the debate series five years ago. Until now, there has never been a debate where one side failed to move even a single percent of the "undecided" audience members to their position.
Each of the six panelist was given seven minutes for opening remarks. Dr. Krebs, representing the pro-motion panel, went first, followed by Urvashi Rangan from the against-the-motion panel, and so on alternating from an individual from each panel.
The middle segment of the debate featured responses to questions posed by the moderator John Donvan, along with audience questions. The last segment was composed of two-minute closing arguments from each panel member.
A summary of the debate, along with excerpts from the remarks of each panelist, appeared in the April 19, 2010 issue of Newsweek magazine, and is accessible below.