Activists’ Dangerous “Dirty Dozen” Drama Debunked; Media Dozes

In a piece for Forbes, Dr. Henry Miller of the Hoover Institution joins me in reporting about how activist NGO’s promote fear mongering about food, but when scientists speak out to debunk the scares, the media is deafeningly silent.

You may recall then annual “Dirty Dozen” scare, which the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases every spring just before your favorite summer vegetables come to market. They want you to think that the pesticide residues on these healthy foods will kill you (unless you buy more expensive organic produce). As we write,

The annual list, which this year includes some of the most nutritious and delicious components of our diet – such as peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, cherries and grapes – is accompanied by an admonition to limit consumption of those kinds of fresh produce and to “avoid conventionally grown varieties” in favor of the more costly organic options.

You’d think at a time when nutrition and obesity are at the forefront of health policy discussions, a group telling us to limit consumption of fresh produce would at least be ignored. But rather, their mostly same old report is picked up widely in the media each year, as if it is important, credible news you should use. If it bleeds, it leads, I guess.

But now, finally, there’s a scientific study directly challenging the claims made in the annual EWG press release. The study, authored by Dr. Carl Winter and Josh Katz of UC-Davis, unlike the press release, was actually published in a peer-review journal, the Journal of Toxicology.  I’ll excuse you for not know about this because by and large, their innovative work hasn’t been reported about — not even in the very news outlets that hype the scare each year. The  study concludes,

“The potential consumer risks from exposure to the most frequently detected pesticides on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of foods are negligible and cast doubts as to how consumers avoiding conventional forms of such produce items are improving their health status.”

Perhaps it is no wonder that Dan Carr, EWG’s spokesman and policy advisor took to Twitter last week to attack the author, as well as an industry group which touted the study. He called the International Food Information Council, “goons,” apparently for giving Dr. Winter and Mr. Katz space in their newsletter to explain their study. So much for the left being held to standards of civil discourse.

The activists have been doing their thing in the comments section of the Forbes piece. We encourage you to quickly register and share your (civil) thoughts there as well.

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