In her latest opinion article for Food Safety News, lawyer Michele Simon sets out to condemn the food industry’s influence on the annual conference of the American Dietetic Association. Although she clearly succeeds in making her feelings known, she ultimately undermines her own argument by all but dismissing peer-reviewed science while seriously considering the notorious communiqués of the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—typically channeled straight to the popular press without anything resembling peer review.
After critiquing the allegedly “biased” information sessions on the science behind arsenic levels in food, as well as bisphenol A, Simon settles into a predictable pattern of ad hominem disparagement of the panelists who spoke at a session devoted to “Clarifying the Controversies of Chemical Risks.” It is here that she expresses deep skepticism about food safety scientist Dr. Carl Winter’s critique of EWG’s annual “Dirty Dozen” — a thoroughly discredited list of the 12 fruits and vegetables they deem most contaminated by pesticides. Simon pauses to ask why EWG wasn’t invited to the conference to “defend their scientific analysis.” The problem is that, as we’ve discussed before, there’s very little that’s scientific about how EWG goes about deciding which foods belong on their list. Simon also fails to acknowledge that ACSH advisor Dr. Winter’s investigation of EWG’s flawed methodology was — unlike EWG’s reports — peer reviewed and published in a reputable scientific journal.
“While Simon devotes a lot of time to smearing by innuendo several ‘industry front groups’ (including ACSH), she never considers who in the world might be subsidizing EWG’s annual scare list,” notes ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “Could it possibly be the organic farm industry? In fact,” he says, “we don’t care who funds whom, as long as they get the facts and the science right. But like her cronies at EWG, Simon is way off-base with her tirade.”
For another recent scientific exposé of EWG’s flawed methods and not-so-squeaky-clean agenda, we recommend this publication by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, examining the how’s and why’s of EWG’s false accusations against the cosmetics industry.