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    The Truth About Pesticides, Part 2: What Are They Afraid Of?

    From Bryan Silbermann, PMA president & CEO
    Last month, Ask Dr. Bob introduced you to a new campaign from our colleagues at the Alliance for Food and Farming called “The Truth About Pesticides”. The alliance’s Marilyn Dolan joined him for that post. You’ll recall that the alliance commissioned a blue-ribbon panel of experts from different scientific disciplines to review claims being made that pesticide residues on produce are unsafe.
    In a nutshell, that panel found Dirty Dozen-type claims to be groundless and without scientific basis. There is simply no documented scientifically-validated evidence that the very trace amounts of residues that might be found on fresh produce can cause health problems. The panel’s findings were unveiled to industry, the media and consumers back in July. 
    PMA is proud to have supported this campaign since its inception, including funding development of the consumer website, www.safefruitsandveggies.com. Simply put, our industry must act to counter the negative effects such claims have on our consumers. This summer, 29% of consumers The Hartman Group surveyed for PMA told us that they are avoiding eating fresh produce because of concerns about pesticide residues. The alliance is now working to get the word out about what the panel had to say – and in the process encourage consumption of all fresh produce, conventional and organic.
    The environmental community’s response has been, let’s just say, strong. We’ve clearly hit a nerve.  The Alliance’s intent in commissioning a review of these claims was to start a conversation on the subject. Unfortunately, the reaction of several activist groups – including the folks behind the Dirty Dozen list – has been the exact opposite. Rather than considering what we have to say, they appear to be actively working to squelch this new information. Their tactics so far have included trying to position the producer-backed alliance as a store front for the chemical industry, and trying to pressure state government officials into revoking grant funding the Alliance received to help it get the word out about the science report.
    PMA and our colleagues at the Alliance are hopeful that at the end of the day, facts and reason will prevail – and consumers will eat more fresh produce, not less because they’ve been frightened. We invite you to help us get the word out to consumers and consumer media about www.safefruitsandveggies.com. For more information on what you can do, contact the Alliance for Food and Farming.
    Unfortunately, not everyone is interested in advancing the consumer’s right to know.  Recently, we learned just how strongly entrenched one television show host’s opinions are.  In September, the Alliance, PMA and several other organizations contacted Dr. Mehmet Oz after he aired a particularly egregious segment.  Alas, even this doctor by training wasn’t interested in the facts if it gets in the way of good theater. That gives you an idea of the long, uphill climb we have ahead of us. But at the end of the day, climbing that hill is what’s best for our consumers, for public health – and yes, for our industry, too.

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