Take the flurry of hysterical press stories stemming from a Harvard study of 120,000 people, which found if consumption of beef, pork or lamb were cut to 1.5 ounces a day, that would prevent one in 10 early deaths in men and one in 20 premature deaths in women.
How should the food industry treat such stories? It could get on the attack by calling their propagators worse names than the ones they use against it. It could get defensive and withdraw altogether from the debate. Or it could view things more positively in a variety of ways.
It could treat the situation as an opportunity to communicate the positive nutrients in meat, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and selenium. Certain sectors could use it as an opportunity to promote these ingredients in meat-alternative products. Or the industry could (sharp intake of breath) sift out the grains of truth there always are in alterative viewpoints, learn from them, and use them as an opportunity to inspire increased innovation.
Only when we truly step into our opponents' shoes do we have the basis for progress together beyond mere stalemate or humouring people. This assertion could be applied equally to the current polarised opinions about genetically modified food or even the different camps involved in the furore surrounding the European Food Safety Authority's treatment of health claims.
Of course, this is all very well, but what do you do while engaging in lengthy and protracted dialogue with those who are entrenched in their opposition to your ideas? In an ideal world, while accepting that some channels may be blocked, perhaps you could seize the opportunity to explore different products and markets rather than wasting energy trading unnecessary punches.
Opposition doesn't have to be negative. It can lead to progress. It depends on how flexible you are and how ready and patient you can be to take a more positive, longer-term perspective.