I Don't Ask For Much, The Truth Will Do Just Fine

I Don't Ask For Much, The Truth Will Do Just Fine

6/27/2012 10:59 AM

The blog headline is from a song lyric which literally comes to mind whenever we are dealing with the Environmental Working Group, the authors of the “Dirty Dozen” list.  EWG is very adept at using inflammatory language to call into question the safety of fruits and veggies.  However, whenever we ask (which we’ve done repeatedly) for clarification or more information about their statements, they either refuse to answer, go off on a different subject or simply begin leveling inaccurate accusations about farmers, our organization or both.  So, we’ll try again.  To EWG, here are some often asked questions from us, as well as our members, about the “Dirty Dozen” list and related issues.  We would appreciate a concise answer that is not laden with hyperbole and fiery adjectives.  Just answer with the facts please.


Your Contradictary Statements

  • How do you justify saying certain produce items are “doused in toxic pesticides” and then in the very next sentence recommend that consumers eat those fruits and veggies?
  • Since you recommend that people consume conventionally grown produce, then you must agree that they are safe, correct?   

Your List

  • There are many discrepancies between the USDA PDP report findings and your list.  For example, you state that USDA sampling found 78 different pesticides residues on lettuce.  However, your claim is not substantiated by the USDA data – not even close!  So how can you say there were 78 different pesticide residues found?  Please address why there is such a discrepancy between the USDA sampling data and your statements?
  • You stated in your press release last week, “EWG researchers analyzed annual pesticide residue tests conducted by the USDA and federal Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2010. The samples were first washed or peeled prior to being tested so the rankings reflect the amounts of the crop chemicals likely present on the food when is it eaten.”  When generating your list, are you combining 10 years of data compiled by USDA and FDA?  If so, then wouldn’t this mean that you are including decade old sampling results but presenting them as what was currently found?
  • You stated yesterday that “the USDA's pesticide data - the data we use to create our Shopper's Guide - is generated AFTER food is washed or peeled.”  You also acknowledge using FDA sampling data (see statement above).  However, the samples pulled by FDA and included in your “list” compilation are not washed or peeled so why do you continue making inaccurate statements about all the samples being washed?
  • And, why do you constantly attack the FDA’s recommendation that “washing” can reduce and often eliminate residues if they are present on fruits and vegetables, which most agree is a healthful habit for both organic and conventional produce? 
  • Which of your “researchers” actually compile the statistics and generate the report? 
  • You often make statements about “high levels of pesticides.”  Can you please provide us with a range of residue levels you would define as “high.”
  • Finally, many experts question the scientific validity and the methodology used to compile your list (including a peer reviewed paper in the Journal of Toxicology), so why don’t submit your report and corresponding list to a respected, credible scientific journal for peer review?

Your Response to Our Consumer Research/Scared Fat Report

  • Our new consumer research shows your statements may result in decreased consumption of fruits and veggies, especially among low income consumers.  You stated that you are “100% certain that any decline in fresh produce consumption is not attributable to the EWG shopper’s guide.”  So, why don’t you conduct your own consumer survey in a transparent way as we did and prove us wrong? 
  • If your mission statement is to “use the power of information to protect human health,” then wouldn’t you want to ensure your list and your statements aren’t having the opposite effect of your stated mission by reducing the consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables?
  • What is your advice for the almost 10 percent of low income consumers who stated in the consumer survey they would reduce their consumption after hearing about the “Dirty Dozen” list?  

Your Statements About Pesticide Use

  • Yesterday, you stated that “as long as AFF’s members continue to spray pesticides on food, EWG will continue to make sure the public knows which crops carry the highest and lowest levels of pesticide residues.”   Can you tell us what pesticides (organic or conventional) are ok for farmers to use?  (Your group likes to compile lists, so give us one and we’ll share it with our members.) 

Your Statements About the Alliance for Food and Farming

  • Why do you continue to call us a “pro-pesticide front group” when our 2011 Tax Return clearly shows that we don’t receive any money or support at all from any pesticide company or group? 
  • Why do you call us “Big Ag” when our total annual budget is much less than your president’s annual salary and most of the individual salaries of your top executives (We’ve attached a link to your federal tax return here which list your top salaried executives.)

We actually have many many more questions, but we’ll stop there.  Remember, EWG, all we’re asking for are answers with the facts attributed please.  We would appreciate you posting your answers as comments on this blog or email them directly to info@foodandfarming.info

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