EWG's Next Move

2/23/2016 1:21 PM

After years of declining coverage with last year reaching an all-time low, it would seem that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) will attempt to find some new angle for their annual “dirty dozen” list release that will somehow boast media attention.  We are expecting that list release any time and you can “bet the farm” that it will once again unfairly disparage popular and safe conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.  But what will EWG do this year to attempt to revive interest in this 20-year-old “list?”

Here are some guesses:

  • Have a new number one on the list.  A few years ago, EWG manipulated the data so that always nutritious and convenient-to-eat apples made the top of the list where they have remained ever since.  So don’t be surprised if EWG comes up with a new number one in 2016 to generate attention and clever headlines.  Also don’t be surprised when that new number one is again among the most popular produce items and a favorite among kids – two EWG prerequisites for a number one placement.
  • Bring in a spokesperson.  Think Food Babe, Dr. Oz or maybe Andrew Weil again.  EWG will use them and their media resources to help advance misinformation with scary language to promote unfounded fears about healthy and safe fruits and veggies.
  • Make-up a new safety issue to include with the “dirty dozen” list.  The issue doesn’t have to be real, it just has to sound sort of “sciencey” and scary, of course.  This is EWG’s forte but attempts to do this with its “dirty dozen plus” have not been successful in increasing media attention in recent years.

What EWG won’t do:

  • Use science to develop their “dirty dozen” list.  A peer reviewed analysis shows that EWG follows no established scientific procedures to develop their list.  The analysis also found that substitution of organic forms of produce for conventional forms does not decrease risk. Instead, EWG simply manipulates government data and even admits to combining decades old sampling results to exaggerate residue levels.  EWG also admits their list isn’t “risk based.”
  • Provide links to the real data.  EWG says they “base” their list on the USDA Pesticide Data Program residue sampling results.  Yet they provide no direct links in their “dirty dozen” report to the USDA PDP website where that data is posted.  Why?  Because USDA, FDA and EPA all clearly state that the sampling program findings show that “residues do not pose a safety concern” which is in direct contrast with EWG claims made in the “dirty dozen” list.
  • Criticize the science posted on safefruitsandveggies.com.  EWG will attack the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) organization calling us a “front group” and other names to try and undermine our credibility. However, they have never once attacked the science and information provided on safefruitsandveggies.com which speaks to the quality of information presented. 

What the AFF will do:

  • Continue to aggressively correct this type of misinformation and present the science so that facts, not fear, can guide consumers’ shopping choices. 
  • Reassure consumers with science-based information that both organic and conventional produce are safe and can be consumed with confidence. 

Maybe our guesses are off-base and EWG will use the same tired strategies they have for decades and hope media attention rebounds.  But we know we aren’t wrong about what they won’t do because those are things they simply can’t do.

Read, learn, choose but eat more organic and conventional fruits and veggies every day for better health and a longer life.


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