Fear-Mongers Upset the Apple Cart

Published June 17, 2011

The real intent of so-called consumer-advocacy groups is to throw a monkey wrench into the wheels of capitalist progress and to diminish our nation’s ability to supply abundant, low-cost, healthy food to our citizens (“Pesticide Residue Taints Apples,” Marketplace, June 13).

While your article states that the vast majority of all U.S. Department of Agriculture samples showed chemical residues to be within the allowable EPA standards, the harm is long done by the headline. You fail to mention the actual chemical concentrations that were measured in the study sample or the maximum contaminant standard dictated by EPA. The Alar scare of decades ago, which you mention, removed apples from school lunches for a year before the truth came out that hundreds of pounds of apples would have to be eaten daily for a year to create a health risk.

Fear-mongers like the Environmental Working Group take advantage of our nation’s declining understanding of numbers in general, but in this case it is further distorted by scientists’ amazing ability to measure nearly molecular-sized particles on and in everything we consume or touch. None of these trace amounts has any conceivable impact on public health, but they allow headline writers to say “Pesticide Residue Taints Apples.”

Jay Lehr

Science Director

Heartland Institute