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Date:

August 14, 2000

Subject:

Stossel's Correction and OTA & EWG's Non-negotiable

 

John Stossel's Correction and OTA & EWG's Non-negotiable Demands

John Stossel's apology and correction of the record on 20/20 was
appropriate and right on target. He took responsibility and
apologized for the sloppy journalism that referred to ABC sponsored
tests for pesticide residue which were never conducted. He also
correctly defended the accuracy of the rest of the program against
the false accusations levied by OTA and EWG. If those making the
charges were sincere in their claimed desire for the truth then this
would have been sufficient but their agenda is ideological and not
the truth as they had already made non-negotiable demands about when
and how the apology should be made and of course, EWG continues to
seek the firing of John Stossel.

Stossel closed his apology with the statement that the food supply in
the United States is largely clean and safe. Even the most cursory
look at 20th century data on food supply, nutrition etc. plus items
such as infant and child mortality and life expectancy in which food
and nutrition were be a vital component, would make Stossel's claim
simply unchallengeable. He included "organic" food which though
"organic" (including raw sprouts, unpasteurized juices and in the
future, other non-irradiated foodstuffs, etc) food is demonstrably
less safe than conventional food, our modern technology (including
clean chlorinated water in the household for cleaning and cheap
energy for cooking) allows this to be true even for the technophobes.
For anyone who has not done so, I suggest that they go to the CDC
website to the Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report and check out
the MMWR's magnificent 1999 series of postings on the gains that we
made, thanks to modern technology, in all areas of human well being
in the 20th century.

As would be expected, OTA and EWG immediately released statements
claiming that Stossel's statement was not enough. Stossel's closing
statement is particularly threatening to OTA and Katherine DeMatteo
since OTA is based on the colossal fabrication which they have
successfully peddled that our conventional agriculture and food
supply is unsafe. The falsity of Stossel's statement on the pesticide
tests was solely on whether or not they had been conducted; the
statement was otherwise accurate. What DeMatteo and OTA are objecting
to, is not lie but the truth. A retraction beyond what has already
been done would be a lie of far greater magnitude than anything that
Stossel said and would be a lie that would advance the cause of an
already sizeable body of misinformation that unfortunately has
permeated our culture and which advances the economic and personal
interests of OTA, EWG and other like minded groups. No wonder that
DeMatteo is demanding that ABC destroy all record of the original
broadcast as it shows how dangerous the truth is to OTA.
("Specifically, at a minimum, OTA seeks a full retraction, ABC's
immediate withdrawal of archival files of the story, and the posting
of corrected information on ABC 20/20's web site." OTA press release)
If anyone in this group has a spare copy of George Orwell's 1984,
they might send it to DiMatteo so she can read about the memory hole
to which all unpleasant and unwanted information and ideas were
consigned.

EWG has once again pulled the stunt of having a government official
contradict a claim that was never made. It is clear from the original
broadcast and made even more explicit in the apology that the tests
were for the benign form of E coli as this is the standard first test
for fecal contamination. It would have been enormously expensive and
required testing a vast amount of produce to find more lethal
micro-organisms and it still would be questionable as to the
significance of such an outcome. If in fact, the 10 to 100 times
greater contamination of organic produce was an indicative of organic
produce in general then it is indicative of a vastly greater
probability of contamination by more lethal micro-organisms. Kenneth
Cook of EWG should know this and if he does, his attack is dishonest
and if he doesn't know then he has no business trying to instruct the
rest of us and even worse attempting to engage in censorship and the
silencing of critics. Tell us Mr. Cook, when was the last time
someone got salmonella from pasteurized orange juice or a child died
from drinking pasteurized apple juice? We have reached such a level
of food safety in the United States that even one child's death is
intolerable.

Like those before him who went to the CDC to have them deny that they
ever did a report that no one ever claimed existed, Kenneth Cook went
to the USDA to deny that the tests conducted could have detected the
more lethal forms of E coli when there was never a claim to that
effect. There is a more serious issue here and if I was not getting
ready to travel to Africa in a couple of days, I would raise it with
some of the Senators and House members who have been defending modern
agriculture. The intent is not to get anyone fired or to impose
censorship but to establish a policy in all agencies of the
government that no statement is to be issued at the request of an
advocacy group that appears to refute claims of others without a
careful examination of what is allegedly being refuted. This is
simply a matter of being responsible. EWG and similar groups have
been particularly sleazy in getting government agencies to shill for
them and if it continues, it will damage the credibility,
particularly with the scientific community, of otherwise reputable
organizations. EWG has no credibility to be damaged. Possibly someone
in this newsgroup might wish to raise the issue with their Senators
or Congressmen?

Last but not least, remains the continuing question of EWG trying to
get John Stossel fired which is simply EWG's way of threatening all
future reporters with loss of livelihood unless they say only what
Kenneth Cook and EWG approves on issues of food and environment. The
affiliation of EWG with Fenton Communications (known for their
perpetuation of the Alar hoax) is well known and is a part of the
history of that groups' attempt to control the news by preventing the
expression of any other points of view. When word leaked out of the
forthcoming 60 minutes broadcast on Alar staring Meryl Streep. the
American Council on Science and Health (for the sake of transparency,
I am on their advisory board) offered CBS a long list of
toxicologists who would present a differing view on Alar. ACSH was
told that Fenton Communications had an exclusive contract with CBS
which prevented any differing perspective being offered on that
broadcast. Note that ACSH nor anyone else sought to have anyone at
CBS or elsewhere fired for a presentation that they considered to be
grossly inaccurate but they did want all sides of an issue to be
aired. The result of the Alar broadcast was that may small apple
growers lost their orchards, their livelihood, the way of life and in
many cases, their heritage. The conclusion is inescapable, that
Fenton Communications and EWG have a callous disregard for the lives
and livelihood of those who stand in the way of achieving their
ideological agenda. We should not, we can not and we must not remain
silent on this issue.

Though they were in no way libeled, the OTA is claiming to be
"prepared to take whatever steps are needed to restore the good
reputation of organic agriculture." We need to be prepared to take
whatever counter measures are necessary to prevent thiese threats
from being successful. There is a Save John Stossel website -
http://www.savejohnstossel.com - and I urge all of you to visit it,
log on, sign in and join up)

Tom DeGregori