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EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

July 10, 2014 Comments off

EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce
Source: Environmental Working Group

Two-thirds of produce samples in recent government tests had pesticide residues. Don’t want to eat bug- and weed-killers? EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce helps you shop smart. We highlight the cleanest and dirtiest conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables. If a conventionally grown food you want tests high for pesticides, go for the organic version instead. And remember – the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh risks of pesticide exposure. Dirty Dozen™ Plus highlights hot peppers and leafy greens – kale and collard greens – often tainted with unusually hazardous pesticides.

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Forbes Billionaires Reaped Millions In Farm Subsidies; Founders of Microsoft, Chick-fil-A, DISH Network, and Charles Schwab Corp., among recipients

November 7, 2013 Comments off

Forbes Billionaires Reaped Millions In Farm Subsidies; Founders of Microsoft, Chick-fil-A, DISH Network, and Charles Schwab Corp., among recipients
Source: Environmental Working Group

At least 50 billionaires or farm businesses in which they had a financial interest benefited from $11.3 million in traditional farm subsidies between 1995 and 2012, according to a new analysis released today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Congress, meanwhile, has proposed changes to the federal farm bill that could well increase their haul of taxpayer dollars.

The billionaires profiting from farm subsidies were identified by matching the September 2013 Forbes 400 list, which ranks the richest Americans by their net worth, with EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database, which tracks farm subsidy spending by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The list of billionaires who cashed in on farm subsidies includes:

  • Paul Allen (Net worth: $15.8 billion), co-founder of Microsoft
  • Charles Ergen (Net worth: $12.5 billion), co-founder of DISH Network
  • Philip Anschutz (Net worth: $10 billion), owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group and co-founder of Major League Soccer
  • Leonard Lauder (Net worth: $7.6 billion), former CEO of the Estee Lauder Companies Inc.
  • Richard DeVos (Net worth: $6.8 billion), co-founder of Amway and a former candidate for governor of Michigan
  • Jim Kennedy (Net worth: $6.7 billion), chairman of Cox Enterprises
  • S. Truett Cathy (Net worth: $6 billion), founder of Chick-fil-A
  • Leslie Wexner (Net worth: $5.7 billion), CEO of L Brands Inc., which owns Victoria’s Secret
  • Charles Schwab (Net worth: $5.1 billion), founder of brokerage firm Charles Schwab Corporation
  • Penny Pritzker (Net worth: $2.2 billion), U.S. Secretary of Commerce

EWG’s 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning

September 25, 2012 Comments off

EWG’s 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning

Source: Environmental Working Group

From blog post:

Since we released the new online EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, with ratings of more than 2,000 different products, many consumers and several companies have asked us why some products get low grades.

The answer is different for every product. Our grading system is based on these factors:

  • Hazardous ingredients that pose threats to human health
  • Little or no specific ingredient information on the label
  • Contains ingredients restricted in some states and the European Union
  • Products that release volatile chemicals

Free Farm Insurance Could Save Taxpayers up to $18.5 Billion

April 22, 2012 Comments off

Free Farm Insurance Could Save Taxpayers up to $18.5 Billion
Source: Environmental Working Group

A new report released today shows that an Environmental Working Group proposal to reform the costly federal crop insurance program through the 2012 farm bill could save taxpayers up to $18.5 billion over 10 years and provide more farmers with a reliable safety net.

EWG commissioned Dr. Bruce Babcock, an economics professor at Iowa State University, to analyze the impact of offering farmers a free insurance policy that would cover 70 percent of average crop yield at 100 percent of the market price for the lost crop.

If farmers were charged a small fee to cover administrative costs, taxpayers would save $10.4 billion over 10 years and cover every acre planted with corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat in 2011. Savings would grow to $18.5 billion over 10 years if only the acres insured in 2011 were covered by the new safety net. “The reality that giving away free insurance would actually save money underscores how inefficient the current system is,” writes Dr. Babcock.

Under the current system, farmers only pay a small portion of the policy premiums, and the private insurers that sell the policies pay less than half of the damage claims from crop revenue losses. Taxpayers pick up the rest, along with exorbitant administrative costs and agents’ commissions. The result is that one taxpayer dollar goes to insurance companies and agents for every dollar sent to farmers to pay claims.

The cost to taxpayers of the current crop insurance system has soared from $2.4 billion in 2001 to nearly $9 billion in 2011 as a result of high commodity prices and the generous premium subsidies that lead farmers to buy the most expensive insurance available.

+ Full Report (PDF)

America’s Conservation Compact is Eroding Despite Farmers’ Support

March 3, 2012 Comments off

America’s Conservation Compact is Eroding Despite Farmers’ Support
Source: Environmental Working Group

A new research paper finds that most farmers support the long-standing conservation compact that has helped protect the rich soil and clean water that sustain food, farming and public health.

Conservation Compliance: A Retrospective…and Look Ahead by conservationist Max Schnepf concludes through a comprehensive review of public opinion polls that the farming community has consistently supported the historic deal between taxpayers and farmers that was struck in the 1985 farm bill. Under it, growers agreed to keep soil from washing away and chemicals out of waterways in return for generous taxpayer support.

Seven polls taken in the last 30 years show that a solid majority of farmers believe that bargain is a fair one.

“The conservation compact was a godsend for agricultural and conservation groups and farmers,” Schnepf writes. “In the 10 years following the 1985 farm bill, farmers did more to curb soil erosion than at any time since the infamous Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.”

Schnepf notes that Environmental Working Group’s 2011 report, Losing Ground, found that high prices, intense competition for farmland leases and ethanol mandates have put unprecedented pressure on land and water. As a result, the historic gains in soil conservation the compact achieved are being lost.

“Conservation is once again being pushed to the back seat – the very situation that led to the compact in the first place,” said EWG Senior Vice President Craig Cox. “We need to reinvigorate the compact just to keep things from getting worse, let alone make long-overdue progress on pollution problems that have gone unchecked for decades.”

+ Full Report (PDF)

Sugar in Children’s Cereals

December 8, 2011 Comments off

Sugar in Children’s Cereals
Source: Environmental Working Group

Parents have good reason to worry about the sugar content of children’s breakfast cereals, according to an Environmental Working Group review of 84 popular brands.
Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, at nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, leads the list of high-sugar cereals, according to EWG’s analysis.

A one-cup serving of Honey Smacks packs more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie, and one cup of any of 44 other children’s cereals has more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.

Corn Lobby Offers Flawed Data To Deflect Blame for Dead Zone

August 12, 2011 Comments off

Corn Lobby Offers Flawed Data To Deflect Blame for Dead Zone
Source: Environmental Working Group

A new study released today by the US Geological Survey shows that efforts to reduce nitrate levels in the Mississippi River Basin are having little impact. Nitrates come mostly from the over-application of chemical fertilizers on crops in the Corn Belt, fouling streams and rivers and eventually helping to swell the annual Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone.”

Corn lobbyists have been citing an analysis they commissioned in a bid to show that agriculture is not the source of nitrogen pollution in the Mississippi River Basin, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Corn Growers Association’s claim is based on a 2009 report, titled “Hypoxia in the Gulf: An Analytical White Paper,” written by the business consulting firm StrathKirn, Inc. [ See the report]

Researchers from the Environmental Working Group recently reviewed the corn lobby’s report and today released an analysis that details its major flaws. [ See the report]

“Gulf fishermen and residents all along the Mississippi River Basin must endure this insult to their water while the culprits continue to deflect blame. It is time for the corn lobby to acknowledge that their cropping system is a major source of water pollution and take responsibility for it,” said EWG analyst Andrew Hug, co-author with Rebecca Sutton of the new EWG report, “Corn Cop Out.” [ See the report]

Large industrial grain operations blanket their fields with nitrogen fertilizer and animal manure. They help push an average of 164,000 metric tons of fertilizer down the Mississippi River into the Gulf each year, creating a low-oxygen Dead Zone of more than 6,765 square miles – an area larger than the state of Connecticut. The excess nitrogen triggers massive blooms of algae that block sunlight and ultimately die off, consuming oxygen and driving out or killing marine plants and animals.

The corn lobby’s study concludes that corn production can’t possibly be causing the pollution problem because all of the nitrogen applied ends up in the corn, not in the water. However, that conclusion is based on an outdated figure for the protein (and therefore nitrogen) content of modern hybrid corn. In the past, corn tested at 10 percent protein, but current measurements indicate that corn’s protein content has dropped 20-30 percent.

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