Ph.D., Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. John Moore,
Acting Deputy Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, and John Bode,
Assistant Secretary for Food and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of
In the last few weeks there has been a growing public controversy over
the potential harmful effects of a chemical called Alar, which is used by
apple growers to retain the crispness of their fruit as it goes to market.
It is used primarily in the growing of Delicious, Staymen, and McIntosh
The federal government believes that it is safe for Americans to eat
apples, and the responsible federal agencies are working together to
reassure the public of this fact.
Recently, the Natural Resources Defense Council has claimed that
children face a massive public health problem from pesticide residues in
food. Data used by NRDC, which claims cancer risks from Alar are 100 times
higher than the Environmental Protection Agency estimates, were rejected in
1985 by an independent scientific advisory board created by Congress. Alar
has been used for decades in apple growing, and it has been the subject of
many studies on possible harmful side effects.
A recent progress report on preliminary results from an ongoing study
shows that a breakdown product of Alar caused certain kinds of tumors in
mice. Based on this report, EPA has begun the process to phase out Alar in
apple growing if the final data, which will be independently reviewed,
demonstrate a need for cancellation. Cancellation could then occur by July
EPA believes the potential risk from Alar is not of sufficient certainty
and magnitude to require immediate suspension of the use of this chemical.
EPA and others have pointed to lack of scientific validity in the suggestion
by the NRDC that the risk is much greater than has been stated by EPA.... [continues]
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