According to a report in the New York Times, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its latest masterpiece of misdirection an 80,000 item database of foods that purports to help consumers decide which foods are most healthful. Not only does the group rate foods on their nutrient content (information the nutrition facts label already provides) , but they also factor in the presence of ingredients they assume to be deleterious. That s a big part of the problem with their ratings.
First, EWG assumes that the presence of any traces of synthetic pesticides makes a food less healthful a stance that has no scientific basis. In addition, they don t assess the presence of pesticides permitted under the national organic program, of which there are many. Second, they disapprove of the presence of additives such as preservatives and food dyes all of which must pass safety tests before they can be used. Their database also informs consumers about the presence of GMO ingredients a finding that means nothing health-wise.
This isn t the first time EWG has tried to influence consumer behavior. The group has also attacked various cosmetic products for containing supposedly nefarious chemicals.
Now, says ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava, this group is trying the same scheme with respect to foods. She continues One can only hope that consumers will not let this pro-organic industry activist group dictate what foods they eat. But as we have noted in the past, EWG takes fear-mongering to giddy heights, and does little to really promote food safety and public health.
ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom says, EWG is using the time-tested, but blatantly dishonest tactic of arbitrarily differentiating between synthetic and organic pesticides; they don t even mention the latter here. While this may sound good to an English major waltzing up and down the aisles of a Whole Foods in a blissful trance, scientifically it is utter nonsense. In fact, a pesticide called rotenone is considered to be OK for use in organic foods, simply because it is derived from a natural source. But rotenone is more toxic than almost all synthetic pesticides. Funny how they leave that out of the discussion.