Organic Consumers Association

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Alice Finds Herself in Troubled Waters

I never thought I’d see the day when the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) would be singing the praises of Alice Waters.

Since its inception a little over three decades ago, the conservative pseudoscience group has been on the wrong side of virtually every imaginable environmental and health issue. It is all in favor of the plastic Bisphenol-A (BPA) and the herbicide atrazine. It has come out against regulations banning trans fats and requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus.

Waters all but invented the “local, seasonal, organic” mantra at Chez Panisse, her Berkeley, Calif. high temple to politically correct cuisine. She was also a prime mover behind the White House organic garden. The ACSH pooh-pooed that garden, and Elizabeth Whelan, the center’s president, has called organic folks “elite and snobby.”

But in a  post on its website early this month, the ACSH applauds Waters’ stance on sewage sludge, praising her for “not caving in to the party line” when an environmental group asked her to come out publicly in opposition to the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer.

For the last several months the Bay Area has been embroiled in a true sludgefest. On one side are environmental and consumer groups such as the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). They have been pushing hard for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to end its three-year-old program of giving away composted sewage sludge for citizens to spread on their yards and gardens. Sludge, say the groups, contains toxic chemicals and hazardous chemicals. It’s a position supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has found that sludge can contain heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, PCBs, flame retardants, and endocrine disruptors.

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