The White House garden may be green and unsullied by agricultural chemicals, but Obama's United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) just forked over $180,000 to fund an agribusiness-backed smear campaign against the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides," which includes the "Dirty Dozen," a list of the foods most commonly found to have pesticide residue.
In July, a website called SafeFruitsandVeggies.com was launched with the sole purpose of debunking the EWG's guide. The website, with the headline, "The Real Dangers of the Dirty Dozen List," was started by the Alliance for Food and Farming, a California-based group that bills itself as a non-profit organization made up of farmers and farm groups who want to "communicate their commitment to food safety and care for the land."
In fact, the alliance is little more than a PR front whose directors include executives from corporate agricultural interests such as Sunkist, Western Growers, California Strawberry Commission, California Tomato Farmers, and the California Association of Pest Control Advisors. The alliance requested the federal dollars through the California Department of Food and Agriculture to "correct the misconception that some fresh produce items contain excessive amounts of pesticide residues," according to the alliance's grant application (PDF). "Claims by activist groups about unsafe levels of pesticides have been widely reported in the media for many years, but have largely gone uncontested." Presumably, the money will enable the alliance to maintain the site.