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• When the Associated Press needed the lowdown on higher-than-expected levels of pesticides found on organic produce, it went to IFT Food Science Communicator Carl Winter, University of California–Davis. The story, based on a Consumers Union–led study of government-collected information, revealed that 23% of organic fruits and vegetables contained pesticide residue, while 73% of conventionally grown produce showed signs of such residue.
Without debating whether one type of produce—organic or conventional—is “better” than the other, Winter said, “The best thing consumers can do is to eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables. Pesticides allow these to be produced in more abundant manner, making them more affordable and offering consumers greater variety.”
The Houston Chronicle published this article May 8 under the headline, “Pesticides Found In Organic Crops.” Other national newspapers to publish the story under similar headlines include The Arizona Republic, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and The Detroit News. Circulation of these papers ranges from 300,000 to more than 500,000.
• Earlier in the month, the Associated Press circulated an article on government scientists’ search for a low-allergy peanut. Featured prominently in the story was the great safety benefit for children that could result. IFT member and coauthor of the 2001 IFT Scientific Status Summary, “Food Allergies and Other Food Sensitivities,” Stephen Taylor, University of Nebraska, supplied the article with this perspective: The non-allergenic peanut “would mean infants would be somewhat less likely to become sensitized in the first place.” IFT member Rhona Applebaum, National Food Processors Association, said, “Research that in some way, shape or form can reduce allergenicity of a peanut . . . is of great benefit.”
Associated Press distributes its news stories to 1,700 newspapers, 5,000 broadcast stations, and 8,500 international news out-lets. The Washington Post (circulation 760,000), Philadelphia Inquirer (circulation 400,000), and The Canadian Press (100 newspapers, 500 broadcast stations) news wire were among the many outlets that ran this article.
• Scientific expertise provided by IFT members is a staple of U.S. news media and journalists abroad. Likewise, IFT-generated scientific information is also well accepted and widely distributed by respected news sources. In the May 29 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association, a comprehensive news brief brought readers a synopsis of IFT’s 2002 Scientific Status Summary, “Parasites and the Food Supply.” The article made specific notice of the summary’s attention to the difficulties of recognizing parasitic illness, and repeated its assertion that increased international travel, worldwide food trade, and the consumption of raw and undercooked foods are leading factors in the increasing exposure of consumers to parasitic illness. JAMA is published weekly, with a circulation of 300,000.
• And in Thailand’s Bangkok Post of May 27, information provided within IFT’s Expert Report on Emerging Microbiological Food Safety Issues and presented at the IFT International Food Safety & Quality Conference in February provided much substance to the article, “Organic Produce Is Not Perfect.” The lead paragraph alone touched on an issue addressed in the Expert Report’s section on specific production methods: “As trends go back to basic farming with increasing use of manure,” the article noted, “vegetables grown on this type of natural fertiliser could be harbouring unseen pathogens [scientists] said.”
Proclaimed as Thailand’s leading English-language newspaper, the Bangkok Post boasts a daily readership of 450,000, and internal audits at IFT confirm that information from this Expert Report has now been featured on more than 200 news outlets worldwide.
by JAMES N. KLAPTHOR
Media Relations Manager