Stossel on target – Organic association using scare tactics
September 19, 2000
by Dennis T. Avery
THE WASHINGTON TIMES September 8, 2000
Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook's letter protesting John Stossel's expose' of organic food on ABC's newsmagazine "20/20" and criticizing Doug Bandow's Aug. 18 column supporting Mr. Stossel is part of the organic industry's frantic effort to make us forget the truth revealed on the program ("Stossel organic expose based on unsubstantiated premise," Sept. 1).
Katherine DiMatteo, head of the Organic Trade Association, admitted to Mr. Stossel that organic food has no nutritional advantages and that "food safety is not what organic food is about." (The British organic industry admitted the same realities to a British government hearing in 1999.)
Mr. Cook decries the "unsubstantiated premise" that organic food can kill you. But Mr. Stossel interviewed the mother of a Connecticut girl who almost died from organic lettuce contaminated with the deadly bacteria E. coli 0157. The major reservoir of 0157 is cattle manure, which too many organic farmers use to fertilize food crops.
Dr. Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1997 that we must stop using manure on food crops because of the bacterial danger, especially from 0157. Mainstream farmers prefer to use safer chemical fertilizer on foodstuffs.
Mr. Cook then leaps to unsubstantiated scaremongering, saying that "many different types of foods are contaminated with levels of pesticides that are unsafe for infants and children under the age of 5 years old." This is based on Mr. Cook's own "toxicity index," not science.
The Food and Drug Administration's annual survey shows that Americans get less than 1 percent of the Acceptable Daily Intake of pesticides - a standard set with children very much in mind and with thousands of safety factors built in.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables cuts our total cancer risk in half. Mr. Cook and his organic farmers have been trying to make us fear affordable produce critical to our good health.
Forced finally to admit the truth on camera, they want to smash the camera.
Dennis T. Avery is based in Churchville, VA, and is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues.