Alliance rebuts pesticide shouts with whispers

07/23/2010 09:52:51 AM
Amelia Freidline

You might have heard that the Alliance for Food and Farming recently released a study saying there’s no scientific evidence to support the claims behind the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” produce list.

Amelia Freidline
Copy Editor

Or then again, maybe you haven’t.

Despite the 40 journalists who participated in the alliance’s July 15 Web-based conference call announcing the report, only one major member of the consumer press, CNN, reported the story.

Given the months-long media frenzy that occurs every time the Dirty Dozen list is updated (EWG published its original list more than a decade ago), I thought a challenge of this tenor would be sure to whip up some controversy.

After all, the EWG is the apparent darling of food and health reporters on every topic from sunscreen to cell phones (want to know the top 10 phones that won’t send radiation buzzing into your brain? EWG has a list for that too).

Does minimal coverage in the consumer press mean the alliance’s campaign kickoff was a flop?

Not so, said Marilyn Dolan, executive director of the Watsonville, Calif.-based organization. She said the call was the first step in the alliance’s campaign to re-educate consumers and the media about the safety of U.S. fresh produce. Dolan called the alliance’s website for the study the foundation of the campaign.

“We’re really relying on that as our main form of communication with media and consumers,” Dolan said.

“For us, a big win would be our alternative view” being presented in articles about the Dirty Dozen, which Dolan said are usually one-sided in support of the EWG.

Dolan did say CNN contacted the alliance before the conference call and asked to participate. She said some media outlets in Florida, Arizona and Chicago also picked up the story and that the alliance is now involved in personal follow-up with the news organizations involved in the call. Stories also are planned for retail grocery publications.

“We have no illusions that we’re going to change the media’s mind overnight,” Dolan said.

That’s good, because the Internet news outlets that got hold of the story seem primed to badmouth the alliance from here to eternity.


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