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ABC Correspondent John Stossel's Attack on Organic Food Industry Exposed as a Fraud

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, August 10, 2000

August 10, 2000

NEW YORK - Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Organic Trade Association (OTA) will release new evidence on Thursday that ABC Correspondent John Stossel knew himself months before his story ran that he lacked scientific proof when he claimed on ABC's 20/20 (2/4/00) that organic food "can kill you."

In addition, EWG has charged that the network never did a basic test to distinguish between harmful versus harmless bacteria. However, the core assertion of Stossel's piece was that organic food, while more expensive than conventional food, is also more dangerous. The piece ran on February 4 and re-ran on July 7 of this year.

The tape undercuts efforts by Stossel and network officials to position Stossel as an unwitting victim of sloppy reporting by subordinates, as well as the core assertion of Stossel's segment - that organic food can kill you through its higher level of harmful bacteria.

On this Friday's 20/20, Stossel is expected to make an on-air apology for using fabricated test results indicating no difference in pesticide levels on organic or conventional produce. This admission came after the EWG and OTA pressured ABC to investigate Stossel's bacteria test.

EWG President Ken Cook said, "Stossel needlessly scared millions of Americans with groundless accusations in the February 4th airing of a segment on organic food."

EWG, which launched the initial investigation into Stossel's phony test results, will renew its call to ABC News President David Westin to fire Stossel.

OTA Executive Director Katherine DiMatteo will join Cook to discuss Stossel's report at a news conference:

August 10, 2000
Mayflower Hotel at 1 pm
15 Central Park West (between 61st and 62nd) Streets
(212-265-0060)

EWG's investigation of Stossel's story on organic food is posted at www.ewg.org. For more information on this story call Mike Casey or Laura Chapin at 202-667-6982.