Michael Fumento

Yet FDA official George Pauli told Bloomberg Press that DuPont was under no obligation to provide the FDA with those documents; indeed, the agency didn’t want them because it stays busy with material that it considers important and hence does require.

Further, FDA recently stated that – based on its own research – types of coatings that include Zonyl "are safe for use in contact with food."

Interestingly, while Evers lost his job in 2002 in what he says was retaliation for his concern over Zonyl (DuPont says it was corporate restructuring), he waited three years before going public with his allegations.

Why the delay? He’s admitted his allegations are in conjunction with his filing suit against DuPont over his job. This makes suspect his credibility.

So why would Ross build a story on two biased sources when new-fangled things called “telephones” easily allow allegations to be confirmed or denied?

Ross wouldn’t return my calls, but representatives at DuPont informed me they sent him a detailed letter before he aired his report. He also responded to Trevor Butterworth at the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) for a detailed piece (at www.stats.org) about the alleged dangers of Zonyl. (Butterworth’s conclusion: What dangers?)

Ross told Butterworth that prior to his report he talked to people at both DuPont and the FDA. If so, then he should have chatted with them about something other than the weather. He also told STATS, “I’m not a science reporter.” (But he plays one on TV.)

After receiving a direct complaint from DuPont, Ross did remove from his evening news broadcast the FDA violation allegation. But he failed to correct his morning report and even repeated the hidden studies charge.

Numerous other outlets including the Associated Press, Washington Post, CBS News and Fox News also repeated the EWG allegations about exceeding FDA standards and a DuPont cover-up. They weren’t fair and balanced and they issued no corrections. At least one state-based “citizen action” group announced a boycott of numerous packaged food products, relying not on EWG directly but rather the AP story.

Yet Bloomberg called both DuPont and the FDA, producing a relatively accurate piece. Fairness and accuracy are not the impossible dream.

ABC News 20/20 reporter John Stossel observes that journalists view groups like EWG as “good guys out to serve the public,” as he once did. That may never change; but it’s no excuse for failing to confirm sources. As the journalist’s adage goes: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

Unless, of course, you’d rather not know.

Michael Fumento

Michael Fumento is a, journalist, and attorney specializing in science and health issues as well as author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing Our World .

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