Ford commercials have been getting a lot of play lately. The premise is that Ford’s vehicles have a lot of options, so you don’t have to choose between and/or. They’re comedic. It’s a campaign, so there are many spots. One has a couple extolling the Ford Escape’s foot-activated lift gate and great gas mileage…and transitioning to a daydream about a bed or breakfast. Another has a couple talking about the Ford Focus’ voice-activated system and great gas mileage, and imagining going to a Chinese restaurant and eating sour chicken (not sweet and sour chicken). The conclusion is that “And” is better.

I had the opportunity to hear Bill Weldon, the VP of Global R&D for Elanco speak at the Reciprocal Meat Conference, the annual meeting of the American Meat Science Association in Auburn, AL. He made so many great points during his talk that I could easily write several commentaries from his content. However, the points he made about having animal welfare AND productivity made me think of the Ford ads. “And” is better.

Mr. Weldon spoke of not only the added increment of the 9 billion people on earth who we will need to feed in the years ahead, but the other 3 billion people who will have a higher standard of living and will be interested in more animal protein in their diets. He talked about the progress in efficiencies that we have experienced in the past several years but that we are experiencing diminishing returns from these gains. Add the restrictions brought on by regulatory or activist activity and the issue is exacerbated. So if you decrease the productivity of animals, you have to increase the number of animals and hence increase the resources required.

He made the point that there are three types of buyers today: food buyers, lifestyle buyers and fringe buyers. He maintains that the food buyers are 95 percent of the population with the lifestyle buyers (those who buy organic and natural, for example) making up another 4 percent. The fringe group represents 1 percent of the buyers. They are the vegans and vegetarians. Someone in the audience stated that they have 99 percent of the microphones.

Mr. Weldon’s talk title was about making safe, affordable and abundant food available worldwide. He spoke of studies in Kenya with which he has been a cooperator. In these studies, the meat and milk test group of students had test scores five times better than their control counterparts. But in this country, we are dealing with the anti-science population who think that if they can’t pronounce it, they don’t want to eat it. I wonder how many of these same people would take vitamins if we used their scientific name rather than their simple letter connotation. I bet many would be scared off. Most of those individuals would definitely not want deoxyribonucleic acid in their cells until they realized that it was DNA.

Janet Riley from the American Meat Institute also gave a talk at the meeting and she showed a slide that talked about all the negative health effects from the consumption of dihydrogen monoxide and a petition to ban the substance. The petition reads: Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death.

Of course, we all know that dihydrogen monoxide is simply H20 or water!

Bill Weldon asked at the end of his talk, “How will you help tell the story?” It was a powerful message which resonated with the 650 meat scientists and students in the audience. After hearing the talk, I definitely think that “and” is better.