Chef Tom Colicchio and EWG Launch “Worth Protecting” Campaign

Washington, D.C. – Environmental Working Group (EWG) today launched the Worth Protecting social media and advocacy campaign to underscore the need for federal farm bill reforms that protect public health and the environment and support future generations of family farmers. The initiative will push Congress to fully fund and restructure conservation programs, require basic environmental protections in exchange for subsidies, and reward farmers who grow food in ways that protect America’s land, soil and water.

The organization hosted a teleconference today with Tom Colicchio, chef and founder of Craft Restaurants, to announce the effort.

“Americans have never been more interested in their food, including how their food is grown,” said Colicchio. “That's why I am joining EWG to launch this campaign: to recognize and reward those farmers who are growing food in ways that reflect our common values.”

The Worth Protecting campaign will highlight that current farm policy led to the loss of more than 23 million acres of prairies, wetlands, and shrubs between 2008 and 2011, research by EWG shows. Over that three-year period, Texas and South Dakota combined lost 5 million acres. Nine other states lost more than 1 million acres each.

Another EWG analysis of government data found that most store-bought meat tested in 2011 contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria. EWG researchers also found at least one pesticide on 67 percent of the produce samples analyzed for the 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Eleven percent of those samples carried five or more different pesticide residues.

“Millions of acres of prairies and wetlands are being lost, antibiotics are becoming less effective, and fertilizers and pesticides are polluting our food and drinking water,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s vice president for government affairs.  “As Congress begins to debate the renewal of the farm bill, we must remind legislators that our land, our food, and our farms are worth protecting,”

Through the Worth Protecting initiative, EWG is engaging American families, farmers, watermen, agriculturists, food safety specialists, environmentalists, and many others to urge Congress to pass a farm bill that:

·      Fully funds and restructures conservation programs to provide long-term protection and encourage greater farmer-to-farmer collaboration.

·      Extends the conservation compact to farmers who receive crop insurance subsidies.

“Many farmers are already taking steps to grow food in ways that reduce the need for antibiotics and pesticides and that preserve the land for the next generation of farmers,” said Craig Cox, EWG’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Congress has a huge opportunity to reform conservation programs to make every dollar count and cut back on the misguided subsidies that encourage unsustainable farming practices.”

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