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EWG News Roundup (3/10): Pruitt’s Climate Change Denial and Perdue’s Sketchy Ethics, Strawberries Top Dirty Dozen List

Friday, March 10, 2017

In a whopper of an interview on CNBC, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt rejected basic scientific facts about carbon dioxide’s connection to climate change. EWG President Ken Cook responded: “We wanted to check EPA Administrator Pruitt's comments with appropriate scientific experts but all the fifth graders we know are still in school.”

It is a truly ominous moment when the head of the EPA denies the settled science on carbon dioxide’s role as a principal driver of global warming – evidence of which his agency has compiled over decades.

On the subject of unqualified agency heads, can we trust Sonny Perdue to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture? An expose by the New York Times highlights ethics questions that dogged Perdue as governor of Georgia. EWG’s Scott Faber wonders whether Perdue is fit to run a $140-billion-a-year federal agency.

And we released the highly anticipated update to the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. Strawberries topped the Dirty Dozen™ list for the second year, and spinach jumped six spots in our annual ranking of conventionally grown produce with the most pesticide residues. EWG's analysis of USDA tests found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventional produce were contaminated with residues of one or more pesticides. Pesticide residues remained on the fruits and vegetables even after they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

Here’s some news you can use as you begin your weekend.

EPA Head Denies Carbon Dioxide Causes Climate Change

Fusion: The internet reacts to Scott Pruitt’s ignorant denial that CO2 is driving climate change

Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group: “We wanted to check EPA Administrator Pruitt’s comments with appropriate scientific experts, but all the fifth graders we know are still in school. Administrator Pruitt, who holds the most important environmental and public health protection job on the planet, has once again shown he’s uniquely unqualified to shoulder the responsibilities of the position. He and President Trump are the only two people on Earth standing in the way of the U.S. taking the bold actions necessary to stave off the devastation climate change is already causing worldwide. Pruitt’s comments today send a clear and ominous signal that we’re all in big trouble.”

EcoWatch: EPA Chief Denies CO2 as Primary Driver of Climate Change

And, as Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook retorted, “We wanted to check EPA Administrator Pruitt's comments with appropriate scientific experts but all the fifth graders we know are still in school.”

GOP Assaults Rule-Making That Save Lives

Politico: The coming GOP assault on regulations

Environmental Working Group vice president Scott Faber calls regulatory reform “the one fight we can’t lose”—a battle that isn’t particularly sexy, but could paralyze a process that has helped prevent millions of accidents and illnesses. He has argued to wavering Democrats that while the next president can easily reverse Trump’s executive order calling for the elimination of two old rules for every new rule, as well as his efforts to kill specific regulations and defang regulatory agencies, an actual piece of legislation that enshrines procedural changes could linger for generations, strangling the regulations of the future in their cradles. Reprinted by True Viral News.

Sonny Perdue Unfit to Lead USDA

The New York Times: Ethics Questions Dogged Agriculture Nominee as Georgia Governor

Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that keeps a close watch on policies at the Agriculture Department, said he had questions about Mr. Perdue’s fitness to take over the department. “Given his record of self-dealing and conflicts of interest as governor of Georgia, it is fair to ask if he is fit to run a $140-billion-a-year federal agency,” Mr. Faber said.

Politico: List of Trump USDA hires goes public

But the Environmental Working Group took shots at Perdue on Wednesday, too, raising questions about many of the same issues while also asking about Perdue’s receipt of farm subsidies and his many business connections. “Perdue received more than $278,000 in farm subsidies between 1996 and 2004. During most of that time, he was also running three businesses and serving in the state Senate,” EWG says.

Trump Guts Environmental Justice at EPA

Fusion: Enviro groups blast Trump plan to gut EPA’s environmental justice office as a ‘racist slap in the face’

In response to the proposed cuts on the environmental justice office, Ken Cook, the president of Environmental Working Group, said: If you want to know who Donald Trump really cares about, follow the money. Tax cuts for billionaires? No problem. But an EPA program that spends a paltry amount to address the outsized burden of pollution on low-income communities of color is too expensive. It’s a shameful and frankly racist slap in the face to people who are already suffering the most from toxic chemicals in their air and water.

Slate: Trump’s EPA Plans Are “Just Racist.”

“The Trump administration has decided fence-line communities across the country, whose residents already bear an outsized burden from pollution, are on their own to take on big polluters,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization.

2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

CNN: Strawberries remain at top of pesticide list, report says

An annual report by the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. That's down 6.6 percentage points from last year.

USA Today: Strawberries and these other foods have the most pesticides

Strawberries topped the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the most pesticides. It's the second straight year strawberries have led the list, which has been published since 2004 and is based on U.S. Department of Agriculture tests of 48 types of produce.

Business Insider: 15 fruits and vegetables you should never buy organic

Helpfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released its 2017 Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce, listing the fruit and vegetables found to contain the least pesticides in its analysis of tests conducted by the US Department of Agriculture.

Chicago Tribune: Strawberries, spinach top list of produce with the most pesticides

On Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group released its annual pesticide report that includes the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The group found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residue.

The Huffington Post: 15 Fruits And Vegetables That May Not Be Worth Buying Organic

The Environmental Working Group tested over 50 kinds of produce for pesticide residue and labeled those with low levels as “clean.” Here are 15 of those, starting with the cleanest. 

.Mic: The Dirty Dozen 2017: The fruits and veggies with the most pesticides

On Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group released its latest "Dirty Dozen" list. The list reveals the fruits and vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticide residue. 

Organic Authority: Strawberries Top EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ List Again and Spinach Jumps Up to Second Spot

The Environmental Working Group has released its annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” guides to pesticides in produce with strawberries claiming the top spot for most heavily sprayed food crop for the second year in a row.

Real Simple: These Are the Fruits and Vegetables You Should Always Buy Organic

You might want to think twice before purchasing conventionally grown strawberries, spinach, or nectarines. According to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), these foods are the most likely to be contaminated with synthetic pesticide residue. Reprinted by Atlanta Journal-Constitution, PeopleTIME and Yahoo!.

Rodale’s Organic Life: New Fruit Makes The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List

For the first time, conventional pears have made their way onto the Environmental Working Group’s list of the top 12 most pesticide-contaminated conventional produce, known as the Dirty Dozen. Reprinted by Women’s Health.

Cancer Defense Diet

Hearst TV: Diet rich in plants, low in processed meats may help fight cancer

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that specializes in public health and corporate accountability, believes that diet plays a key role in the cancer battle. The EWG developed a simple eating regimen that may reduce the risk of cancer. Dubbed the Cancer Defense Diet, the plan places a strong emphasis on fruits, vegetables and unprocessed proteins like beans or low-mercury seafood.


Health: The 10 Most Addictive Foods and How to Stop Eating Them

The Environmental Working Group, which recently ranked 1,556 cereals based on their sugar content, recommends looking for a brand with no more than 4 grams of sugar per serving. In 2018, the new Nutrition Facts label will also have to list the amount of added sugar, along with the percentage of Daily Value of it, which will make it easier to weed out addicting offenders. Reprinted by Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Health, NewsDog and Yahoo! News.

Clean Water Rule

The Huffington Post: Trump Wants To Dismantle The Clean Water Rule. Here’s What’s At Stake.

A repeal of the Clean Water Rule could threaten the drinking water of 117 million Americans, according to a recent nationwide analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

Farm Pollution

NPR: Farmers Fight Environmental Regulations

The way environmentalist Craig Cox sees it, streams and rivers across much of the country are suffering from the side effects of growing our food. Yet the people responsible for that pollution, America's farmers, are fighting any hint of regulation to prevent it. "The leading problems are driven by fertilizer and manure runoff from farm operations," says Cox, who is the Environmental Working Group's top expert on agriculture. 

Meat Eater’s Guide

Civil Eats: Less Meat, Better Food, Happier Kids: Oakland Unified Reinvents its School Lunch

“Cheese has the third-highest carbon footprint after beef,” said Hamerschlag, referring to an Environmental Working Group report she authored in 2011, which tallied the lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of close to two dozen protein sources. Cheese’s footprint derives from the fact that it takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese, coupled with the emissions of methane (a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) that cows belch into the atmosphere.)

PFCs in Food Wrappers

NowToronto: Fast-food warning: your takeout is leaching banned chemicals

New study by the Environmental Working Group in the U.S. found that a third of grease-repelling takeout wrappers and boxes from 27 fast-food chains contained PFCs.


Business Insider: Bottled water just surpassed a major milestone — thanks to the 'marketing trick of the century'

In a 2008 study, the Environmental Working Group found 38 pollutants in 10 brands of bottled water. Two of the 10 brands tested were chemically indistinguishably from local tap water. Reprinted by Connecticut Post, San Antonio Express News, Yahoo! Finance and 15 other media outlets. 

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