I wish he’d fired them but the way they have it set-up it’s not easy.
Alar: The Great Apple Scare (TOTALLY BOGUS)
DAVID FENTON - FENTON FOUNDATION
Written By: Jay Lehr and Sam Aldrich
Published In: Environment & Climate News > March 2007
Publication date: 03/01/2007
Publisher: The Heartland Institute
This article is the ninth in a continuing series excerpted from the book Smoke or Steam: A Guide to Environmental, Regulatory and Food Safety Concerns, by Samuel Aldrich, excerpted and abridged by Jay Lehr.
Against a background of a skull and crossbones, overlaid on a red apple, the late Ed Bradley appearing on CBS TVs “60 Minutes” on February 26, 1989 said:
“The most potent cancer-causing agent in our food supply is a substance sprayed on apples to keep them on the trees longer and make them look better. That’s the conclusion of a number of scientific experts, and who is most at risk? Children who may someday develop cancer.”
Almost overnight the Alar story seemed to be everywhere: Phil Donahue, the Today Show, Women’s Day, CNN, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, the Washington Post, the New York Times, etc. Actress Meryl Streep announced on TV the formation of Mothers and Others for Pesticide Limits.
TESTING SHOWED ALAR SAFE (the same radical lefties tested for arsenic in New Orleans and initially found none came back later and did some more testing and voila there was dangerous levels of arsenic. (They got a lot of mileage out of New Orleans.)
Bogus NRDC ‘Evidence’
In 1986 the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a SELF-APPOINTED environmental activist group, challenged the safety of Alar, especially for children, and asked EPA to declare Alar an “imminent hazard,” which would have allowed banning it at once.
The NRDC claimed to have scientific evidence showing Alar might cause cancer. The alleged evidence, however, was never published where it could be reviewed by qualified scientists.
EPA set up a “special review” panel—which rejected the NRDC results just three weeks before the 60 Minutes program.
In April 1989, Science magazine condemned the NRDC report.
CBS Ignored Evidence
Alar had in fact been eliminated in baby food three years earlier by Gerber, Heinz, and Beech Nut, and other companies eliminated the use of Alar in other products soon afterwards—because of unfavorable publicity, not because of any safety hazard.
Despite this, according to Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media, the NRDC arranged with CBS to air its report, “Intolerable Risk: Pesticides in our Children’s Food,” on 60 Minutes.
In the book Fear of Food (Free Enterprise Press, 1990), Andrea Arnold characterized NRDC’s Alar scare as “a deliberately misleading environmentalist fund-raising campaign.”
Eight months after the first 60 Minutes presentation on Alar, as a result of an Accuracy in Media report, the public began to hear about the despicable collusion between NRDC and CBS. Few, however, were aware that in 1988 NRDC had hired Fenton Communications, a public relations firm, to plan and carry out the campaign against Alar. Fenton arranged months in advance for the 60 Minutes television segment.
Belatedly, apple growers tried to counter the effect of the Fenton campaign with reassuring statements from scientists, the Department of Agriculture, and EPA itself. But the message was buried under the avalanche of negative publicity generated by the NRDC misinformation project.
Scare Campaigns Continue
Science magazine in 1989 suggested “it may be time to develop appropriate measures so that victims of irresponsible information have redress.” In 1991 Colorado adopted a statute that would make those who cast needless doubt on the safety of perishable agricultural food products subject to a fine up to three times the cost of lost sales.
Apple growers sued in Yakima County, Washington asking for $250 million in damages against CBS, the NRDC, and Fenton Communications, but never received anything.
While most people still recall the historic Alar scare, few recognize the malevolent intentions of the groups involved. Thus, similar unjustified scare campaigns are likely to be repeated.
Jay Lehr, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is science director for The Heartland Institute. Samuel Aldrich is an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois. His groundbreaking book for laymen, Smoke or Steam? A Guide to Environmental, Regulatory, and Food Safety Concerns, is available from The Heartland Institute for $12. The table of contents of the book, containing 211 topics, can be viewed at http://www.heartland.org/smokeorsteam.pdf.
****Alar Alarmists Attack John Stossel (now employed by Fox]
August 18, 2000 Isn’t it interesting that the people who brought you the thoroughly debunked Alar scare in 1989 are the same ones who are now attacking ABC reporter John Stossel for his report on organic food?
The controversy surrounding Stossel centers on his statement that pesticide residue tests on produce were performed, though they really weren’t. The New York Times’ John Tierney points out that tests or no tests, the focus of Stossel’s report “reflected conventional wisdom among scientists: organic food has no nutritional advantages and poses a greater risk of bacterial contamination because it is grown in manure.”
The organic pushers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claim, “Stossel lied and threatened an entire industry by disseminating false and damaging information.” The group has been calling for Stossel’s head and getting a lot of press for the organic industry in the process. What is EWG and what connection does it have to the people who brought you Alar?
The attack on Stossel certainly appears to be coming from PR mastermind David Fenton of Fenton Communications, famous for introducing us to Alar during a 60 Minutes interview. In a Washington Times interview after the Alar scandal was discredited, Fenton said: “We designed [the Alar Campaign] so that revenue would flow back to the Natural Resources Defense Council [Fenton client] from the public, and we sold this book about pesticides through a 900 number and the ‘Donahue Show.’ And to date there has been $700,000 in net revenue from it.”
In a letter to his clients, Fenton added: “A modest investment repaid itself many-fold in tremendous media exposure and substantial, immediate revenue.” Fenton said as a result of the Alar campaign, “Lines started forming in health food stores. The sales of organic produce soared. All of which we were very happy about.”
The links to another Fenton attempt to boost organic sales couldn’t be clearer:
EWG is a project of Tides Foundation/Tides Center.
Arlie Schardt is Project Director for The Tides Center and also happens to be the head of Fenton Communications’ Environmental Media Services (EMS and Fenton are housed in the same office!).
The Tides Center earmarked over $975,700 for EMS in 1999 and more than $400,000 for EWG in 1998.
Fenton Communications did $169,920 of business for Tides in 1997.
I’m glad Stossel’s at Fox. Hopefully he’ll revisit this horrifying injustice. There was so much suffering. CBS needs to pay by being totally humiliated.
David Fenton continues to boast, that this was his first big win, despite the fact that it was totally baseless. He’s gone on to win other injustices toward big and small business’ with the help of ACORN and the SEIU, or whatever rent a mob they need whether it’s the greenies, animal rights, info war etc. They fund them all.