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August 11, 2000


French Attitude; Support Stossel; Danish paper yanks the


The French attitude on many things is driven by their socialistic society.
The average EU farmer receives about five times the amount of government
payments that we receive in the US. Anything that threatens those payments
is taboo. What I find interesting about agriculture in the EU however is
that much of those payments are used up by a dated and inefficient
infrastructure. Their way of doing business over there wouldn't last a
season in the U.S. But remember Europe remembers hunger and they revere
their farmers like nowhere else in the world. I think that the EU farmers
individually would welcome some of the production advantages that biotech
has to offer but are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals. Also, we
enjoy a single government over here with oversight agencies that the
public trusts to oversee the safety of the food supply. I won't go into
how much of that trust is deserved. Oh maybe a little, I have noticed a
definite political agenda in U.S. EPA without any scientific evidence to
back it up but that is another story. Any problems are recognized and
corrected fairly rapidly. The multiplicity of oversight agencies by
country complicates the situation over there tremendously. Until they can
agree on a single entitiy to entrust food safety with and allow them to
work the problems will persist.

From: Alex Avery
Subject: Stossel

Support Stossel--Call ABC News at (212) 456-7777

John Stossel is paying a hefty price for an honest and minor mistake in a
story that remains accurate.

In a story on the potential foodborne illness risks of organic vs.
conventional foods on ABC's 20/20, John Stossel stated as an aside to the
story that, while many organic consumers choose organic foods because they
want to avoid pesticides, "our tests" showed no pesticide residues in
either the conventional or organic produce. Apparently, while they did
test food for feacal E. coli contamination (and found 10-100X more E. coli
on bagged mixed salad and sprouts), they did not test for pesticide
residues. The story was primarily about bacterial risks in food, not
pesticides and this portion of the story remains entirely accurate.

While ABC itself didn't test for pesticide residues, others have and their
results comport with Stossel's assertion that most produce does not have
detectable pesticide residues. Data from the FDA's monitoring program of
pesticide residues in raw agricultural products (ie. unwashed, whole,
unpeeled) for 1998 indicates that more than 70% of vegetables tested had
no detectable pesticide residues. Also in the 1998 data: 97% of dairy
products, milk and eggs, 63% of grains and grain products, 78.5% of fish
and shellfish, 41.5% of fruits and 87.4% of other foods had no detectable
pesticide residues. Overall, 65% of raw and unprocessed foodn samples
tested had no pesticide residues. If the foods had been washed prior to
testing, as was recommended by the Organic Trade Association's spokeperson
for their products, the percentages of samples with detectable pesticide
residues would have been even higher.

For this minor and yet still factually accurate mistake, the Organic Trade
Association is demanding the firing of John Stossel and a complete
retraction of the story. The Organic Trade Association is threatening
legal action, as well, against ABC, which apparently has the network
spooked. The fate of John Stossel is up in the air, but the rumor that the
rebroadcast of his critically-acclaimed one hour special "Is America Still
Number One" cannot be a good sign.

Please, contact ABC and let them know that you support John Stossel and
that they cannot cave to the bullying tactics of the organic foods
industry and environmental activists that have been trying for so long to
discredit and destroy the only conservative commentator on national
network, primetime television.

Subj: Rome is burning!! - "a reprimand is not enough" says EWG - they want
a pound of flesh!
From: Tom DeGregori

While the experts are fiddling and the theoreticians are debating, the
arsonists are setting the city ablaze. It is absurd to the point of being
obscene that a Fenton Communications affliliate is contemplating a class
action suit against ABC for the 20/20 Report on Organic Food when their
false report on Alar cost apple growers hundreds of millions of dollars
sending some into bankruptcy. Only a certified idiot could believe that
their intention is any other than to stifle all dissenting opinion from
the orthodoxy that they wish to enshrine. I would defend John Stossel's
right to make a mistake even if I disagreed with him but I believe in
freedom of speech and democracy and I am confident that so do the members
of this news group. The EWG and the OTA obviously don't. We need to
organize an effort to let ABC know that they will have unlimited access to
professional expertise on the issues involved if a class action suit is
brought and that some of us would be willing to testify or do a supporting
document and waive our usual fees except for any out-of-pocket expenses. I
am afraid that ABC might find it easier and cheaper to capitulate to a
lawsuit or a threat of one even though they could probably easily win it.
Once again, there is a call to make our voices heard.

Tom DeGregori

Organic org mulls 20/20 lawsuit

By Paula Bernstein
NEW YORK (Variety)

- The Organic Trade Assn. (OTA) may file a class-action lawsuit against
ABC to compensate for damage allegedly inflicted on organic farmers after
a false report on the industry appeared twice on ``20/20.''``We are
considering all of our options for legal action at this time,'' said
Katherine DiMatteo, the group's executive director, who was interviewed
on-air by ABC News correspondent John Stossel during the now-infamous
report. DiMatteo said OTA is working with a team of lawyers and is waiting
to see how Stossel phrases his on-air correction and apology during Friday
night's episode of ``20/20.''

On Wednesday, sources said ABC News would formally reprimand Stossel and
the segment's producer, David W. Fitzpatrick, would be suspended without
pay for a month. But the OTA and the Environmental Working Group -- which
initially brought the report's flaws to light -- contend a reprimand is
not enough.``ABC News has to fire John Stossel for going on the air and
lying to the American people,'' said EWG president Ken Cook. DiMatteo said
she will be satisfied if ABC airs a full retraction of the entire story
during both the summer and during sweeps.

The original report, which aired Feb. 4, implied that organic food could
be deadly. Citing research he said was commissioned by ABC News, Stossel
declared that organic food was more likely to be contaminated by dangerous
E. coli bacteria and does not necessarily have less pesticide residue than
conventional food.

But two researchers who were commissioned to do the testing said they
never tested for pesticide residue and that the tests conducted could only
detect the presence of generic E. coli and not the presence of dangerous
E. coli. Despite complaints about the report from the EWG, ABC aired the
segment again July 7. The OTA screened outtakes from DiMatteo's interview
with Stossel at a press conference Thursday. The tape showed that Stossel
knew that the results of the tests were not scientifically significant.
``We should do another test,'' the reporter says on the tape.ABC News
declined comment except to say, ``We have completed our review of the
circumstances surrounding the error and have taken the appropriate

Thomas R. DeGregori, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
Department of Economics
University of Houston
Houston, Texas 77204-5882
Ph. 001 - 1 - 713 743-3838
Fax 001 - 1 - 713 743-3798
Email trdegreg@uh.edu
Web homepage http://www.uh.edu/~trdegreg
Subj: Danish Minister bans GM foods because of Monarch study!
From: "Barry Hearn"

Info update -

The Copenhagen Post apparently did no like the attention they drew with
the below piece as it has now been deleted from their server.

; -----Original Message-----
; Subject: AGBIOVIEW: Danish Minister bans GM foods because of Monarch ;
study! ; Look a the third paragraph and count the inaccuracies. Wow! ; ;
; Subj: Environment Minister bans GM foods From: "Barry Hearn"
; ;
http://www.cphpost.dk/default.asp?id=7966 ; ; Environment Minister bans GM