A California group that represents large produce growers, marketers and the suppliers who sell them pesticides and fertilizer, is getting $180,000 in federal funds for a PR campaign to combat critics of the pesticide industry. The recipient of the funds, the Alliance for Food and Farming, is a front group for pro-pesticide interests. The grant is from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (via the U.S. Department of Agriculture) to help "correct misconceptions about pesticide residues" on food, and "generate more balanced media reporting and change public perception of the safety of produce when it comes to pesticide residues." AFF recently launched an attack on the Environmental Working Group's Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which keeps people informed about the levels of pesticide residues found on various types of commonly-purchased produce. The Shoppers Guide contains a wallet-sized list of the "Clean 15" -- the top 15 types of produce that are lowest in pesticides, and the "Dirty Dozen" -- twelve types that are better bought organic. The Guide has been credited with increasing sales of organic produce. AFF counters the Guide by arguing that the real problem is that a fear of pesticides is making Americans eat less produce. AFF even started a new Web site, SafeFruitsAndVeggies.com, that argues directly against the value of what AFF calls the "Dirty Dozen List."
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