Consumers Union Slams EPA for Bogus Consumer Pamphlet
on Pesticide Residues in Food

February 12, 1999
Consumers Union Press Release
Washington, D.C. -- Consumers Union strongly criticized the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to give consumers even the most basic
information about pesticides in food in a consumer-right-to-know brochure
release by the agency today.
"This brochure is a lost opportunity for the EPA and the Clinton/Gore
Administration to extend their commitment to informing consumers about
toxic hazards in their environments to the most fundamental levelpesticide
residues in the food they feed their families, " said Jeannine Kenney, a
policy analyst at Consumers UnionUs Washington D.C. Office. "Instead of
telling consumers that pesticides are toxic poisons, that they are found
many foods, and that some foods contain multiple pesticides, this brochure
fails to provide consumers with even the most basic understanding of what
pesticides are and what risks they pose."
Chemical and food industry organizations had urged EPA to remove
references to the harmful effects of pesticides and to omit a
recommendation that consumers who wish to avoid pesticides in food can buy
organically grown produce from prior drafts of the brochure. The final
draft of the brochure removed references to the specific health hazards of
pesticides and omitted the recommendation that consumers buy organic food.
The pesticide brochure was required under a new pesticide safety law, The
Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, which requires EPA to modernize
pesticide regulation to ensure pesticides are safe for infants and
"The brochure is also badly misleading because it suggests that EPA is
protecting consumers, particularly infants and children, from the harmful
effects of pesticides," Kenney said. "In fact, that wonUt be true until
the new pesticide safety law has been implemented. More than two years
since that law has been enacted EPA is still not protecting kids from the
pesticides in their diets, in part because of pressure from the chemical
industry to delay any action to reduce pesticide risk."
Consumer Reports, the flagship of Consumers Union, will release a new
report next Thursday at a New York City based press conference . The
report finds excessive pesticide levels on some fruits and vegetables.
report evaluates pesticide residues found on the foods children eat most
and will provide consumers with recommendations on how to minimize their
pesticide exposure. To receive press materials or learn how to attend or
participate in a free audio hookup, contact Amy Wolfcale at 914,278-2437
email at

WASH THAT APPLE -February 12, 1999 -Reuters
Julie Vorman
WASHINGTON -- On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency
began distributing a brochure to some 40,000 U.S. grocery stores that
urges parents to wash, scrub, peel and trim fresh produce to remove
pesticide residue before serving food to children. The agency was cited as
saying youngsters' developing nervous systems and organs can be affected
by the large amounts of pesticides typically found on apples, potatoes and
other foods.
According to the new booklet, which can be found on the internet at
fruits and vegetables under
running water has "an abrasive effect" that makes it better than soaking.
The web site also reportedly lest parents check specific foods to find out
the maximum amount of pesticides now allowed by law.
Another suggestion from the EPA was cited in the story: Children should
eat a variety of foods. This will give you a better mix of nutrients and
reduce your likelihood of exposure to a single pesticide." The pamphlet
apparently mentions but does not endorse consuming organically grown foods
to reduce exposure to chemicals.
The brochure was said to be ordered by Congress as part of the Food
Quality Protection Act, passed three years ago, which requires the
Environmental Protection Agency to reassess virtually all pesticides used
on food.
The story then cites the American Crop Protection Association, who
represents pesticide makers, as saying the new brochure wrongly implies
that food is unsafe because of pesticides. Jay Vroom, president of the
industry group, said "the food is safe because the EPA requires 120 or
more health, environmental and safety tests on each pesticide before it
permits farmers to use them."
Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, was said to believe
"[the pamphlet] completely downplays the risk of pesticides" and that he
doesnUt "think its mention of organics is courageous at all."
The story concludes by saying Cook's group recently set up its own Web
site, which allows parents to fill a grocery cart with typical items that
a preschooler might eat during a day and then calculate the likely amount
of pesticide residue consumed. The address is