GREENFIELD, Mass. (July 31, 2000)—The Environmental Working Group (EWG) today released a report verifying that ABC Television’s 20/20 program used unfair and untruthful tactics to attack organic agriculture in a broadcast originally aired Feb. 4 and re-aired July 7.
"The Environmental Working Group’s report validates the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) efforts to prevent ABC Television from misrepresenting facts about organic agriculture and products," said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director. "OTA is outraged. The 20/20 report was inaccurate, irresponsible, and deceived the public through fabricated research. The damage to the organic industry was substantial and hard to calculate, and OTA is investigating the best course of action. The public has the right to know the truth--certified organic agricultural production builds healthy soil and a healthy environment, and certified organic food has been a safe choice in the marketplace for the last 20 years."
In their report entitled "Give Us a Fake: How ABC News Fabricated One Lab Study and Distorted another to Debunk Organic Food," EWG’s Kenneth A. Cook and Richard Wiles scrutinized the claims made in 20/20’s show entitled "The Food You Eat—Organic Foods May Not Be as Healthy as You Think."
The EWG investigation, conducted independent of OTA, showed that the pesticide tests 20/20 reporter John Stossel claimed were performed to examine pesticides on produce were, in fact, never conducted. In addition, although laboratory analyses for bacteria were conducted for ABC News, the scientists who performed and evaluated them for ABC News have indicated those tests were incapable of proving the food safety problems Stossel attributed to the results.
Prior to the February broadcast, OTA had written to 20/20’s executive producer to warn him that Stossel was misrepresenting the facts during his interview with DiMatteo. When the show was aired, OTA had pointed out that the program erroneously implied that organic produce was more likely to cause food-borne illness. 20/20 did not respond to OTA’s letters.
July 31, 2000
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