EWG: Pesticides Are Safe?

In our profile of the so-called Environmental Working Group, we’ve noted the organization’s history of simply being wrong on science. EWG’s shtick is to fear-monger about non-organic goods from food to personal care products, preying on consumers’ general skepticism of chemicals and lack of knowledge of chemistry or agriculture. So it’s amusing to see EWG now start talking out of both sides of its mouth.

Recently, members of Congress have been working on a bipartisan compromise to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, which regulates chemicals. EWG has been, as one might expect, yelling from the sidelines in opposition to both of the bipartisan bills that are alive in Congress. One of EWG’s gripes? “Toxic chemicals that wind up in people’s bodies should be at least as safe as pesticides. But as a group of legal experts recently noted, neither bill includes the tough ‘reasonable certainty of no harm’ safety standard that Congress applied to pesticides,” the group says.

“As safe as pesticides.” You wouldn’t get that from EWG’s other works scaremongering about pesticides, such as its annual “Dirty Dozen” report. That report makes hay over trace amounts of pesticides on some produce and pushes the buy-organic agenda of EWG. But in a paper for the Journal of Toxicology, researchers note, “The methodology used to create the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list does not appear to follow any established scientific procedures. […] Results from this study strongly suggest that consumer exposures to the ten most common pesticides found on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ commodities are several orders of magnitude below levels required to cause any biological effect.”

Pesticides are low-risk if used as normally intended—as EWG itself seems to admit. At least, when it’s convenient. And the big joke in EWG’s organic-only advocacy is that organic agriculture also uses pesticides—just not synthetic ones. And some “natural” pesticides have higher toxicity than synthetic alternatives.

Read our full profile of EWG over at ActivistFacts. It’s not the first time these clowns have stepped in it.

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