Produce Industry Takes Issue With Oz on Pesticides

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Produce Industry Takes Issue With Oz on Pesticides


In response to what it deemed “particularly egregious misinformation” regarding the safety of conventional fruits and vegetables treated with pesticides, the Alliance for Food and Farming, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), the United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers have sent a letter to the producer of the “The Doctor Oz Show.” On a recent episode of the daytime television program, which airs on NBC, Dr. Mehmet Oz, who trained as a thoracic surgeon, said that eating fruits or vegetables with pesticide residues would cause one’s heart to race, dilated eyes and asthma-like symptoms.

Disputing those claims as “medically and scientifically invalid,” the letter noted that according to the EPA, USDA and FDA, the three federal government agencies that regulate the use of pesticides, “98 percent of the produce tested [has] either no detectable residues, or the residues found were well below the legal levels set by the government.” The letter added that the U.S. government’s standards governing the use of pesticides are the world’s strictest.

Citing toxicologist studies of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, the letter further pointed out that children and adults would have to eat astronomical servings of strawberries, spinach, apples and peaches for the pesticides to have any effects on the consumers. Additionally, the letter said that the lists commonly referred to by the Consumers Union and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that Dr. Oz mentioned on his show are “misleading to consumers, are a detriment to public health because they discourage consumption, and lack scientific evidence that the pesticide levels found pose any risk.”

Perhaps most damaging of all, according to the letter, were the aspersions cast on growers – most of them family-owned and -operated farms rather than large corporate entities -- that they would employ harmful practices to produce the foods they themselves eat as well as sell to consumers.

The letter, signed by Marilyn Dolan, executive director for the Alliance for Food and Farming; Bryan Silbermann, PMA’s president and CEO; Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president; and Western Growers president Tom Nassif, closed by inviting Oz and his producer to take part in further dialogue on the issue.