The Environmental Working Group

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington-based environmental lobbying organization, claims its mission is “to see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun.” But EWG does the polar opposite, cooking up junk “scientific” reports and feeding them to the media. The result: some of the nation’s worst phony health scares in the past 10 years.

Here’s just a handful:

  • In 2004, EWG created and publicized a report that fueled new fears about a link between autism and the mercury found in childhood vaccines. Some parents responded by refusing or delaying vaccinations for their children, putting their sons and daughters at risk of serious disease. The vaccine scare has since been widely discredited, but the original report and news release remain on EWG’s website, and some parents still are declining vaccinations for their children.
  • Each year, EWG releases its list of the “Dirty Dozen” – the 12 fruits and vegetables activists deem the “most contaminated” by pesticide residue. A study published in the Journal of Toxicology found the list is scientific nonsense. Even worse, it discourages people from eating healthy fruits and vegetables. After hearing EWG statements about the “Dirty Dozen,” almost 10 percent of low-income Americans stated they would cut back on fruits and vegetables – a decidedly bad decision for their health. As Samuel Cohen, a pathologist from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, noted: “A focus on nutrition in general would be much more beneficial to human health than this misguided focus on extraordinarily small contamination levels of pesticides.”

Then there are EWG’s ongoing attacks on the safety of seafood. EWG has publicized bogus reports warning about mercury in seafood and recommended that Americans eat only one serving of canned light tuna per month because it “may contain industrial pollutants,” and lobbied the government for new restrictions on seafood.

EWG even claims “officials of the FDA are secretly mounting an eleventh-hour drive to eliminate the 2004 warnings on mercury in fish, a move that would benefit the commercial fishing industry.” What EWG doesn’t mention is that the National Fisheries Institute has repeatedly called on the federal government to update its seafood advisory with a full and public review of the science.

Why? Because we know that decades of research show seafood is one of the healthiest foods on earth – safe to eat and rich in essential nutrients like protein, vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

The guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding fish consumption and mercury are the most stringent in the world – and contain a ten-fold safety factor. That means a person would have to eat 10 times more fish than the current safety threshold every day for the rest of their life to reach a level associated with any known risk.

In fact, there has never been a case of mercury toxicity in the U.S. attributed to the normal consumption of commercial seafood documented in any peer-reviewed medical journal. Experts agree that the real health concern regarding fish is that Americans aren’t eating enough of it.

But EWG will never say any of that. It’s no wonder that 79 percent of toxicologists surveyed say that EWG is guilty of overhype and exaggeration.

Scientists don’t trust EWG. Neither should the public.