Science Prevails

Science Prevails

4/24/2013 5:29 PM


Good science got in the way of Environmental Working Group’s “Shoppers Guide/Dirty Dozen” annual list release and the result was negligible media coverage.  This represents a significant change from previous years.  But, this year the combination of science based information housed at and the clear and concise food safety statements from the Obama Administration resulted in the decline of this once-popular story.

As the scientific library was built and expanded on, it became easier and easier to counter the misleading safety statements by groups like the EWG.  And, while the Alliance’s job got simpler, the science presented made EWG’s position, methodology and corresponding statements much harder to justify. 

Also helpful was the strength of the content in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program Report, which EWG re-interprets to create its “Dirty Dozen” list. Both USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency clearly stated that residues do not pose a food safety risk.  The government report also included consumer sections which focused on the rigorous standards in place to protect the food supply.  The AFF asked media and consumers to just read the government report instead of a re-interpretation by EWG, which seemed to really resonate.

Finally, we also saw a change in EWG’s statements.  They placed more emphasis on the “Clean 15” portion of the “Shoppers Guide” than on the “Dirty Dozen” list.  EWG also went out of their way to remind consumers to eat more fruits and vegetables, including conventionally grown.  Again, this all leads us to ask EWG our repeated question, “why have a list at all?”

With the significant decline in media attention on the “Dirty Dozen” list, a key goal has been achieved.  However, there is still much work left to do since EWG and other groups will continue to unfairly disparage safe and healthy produce which can have a negative impact on consumer choice and consumption.

But, for now, we can keep in mind that science prevailed this week.  The Alliance will continue to enhance this website with new science-based information and website sections so that consumers can learn more about the safety of organic and conventionally grown produce and eat more with confidence.  

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