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REFUTED DENNIS AVERY AVOWAL

Refuted Dennis Avery Avowal


Bui Williams
Washington State University

REFUTED DENNIS AVERY AVOWAL

Refuted Dennis Avery Avowal


On August 18, 2000, Dennis T. Avery submitted an article entitled An ABC Reporter
Riles the Organic Farm Movement to Bridge News, and it was posted on the Hudson Institutes
website, of which Mr. Avery is a Senior Fellow and Director.
Dennis T. Avery served as an agricultural analyst for the U.S. Department of State, from
1980-1988, where he assessed foreign-policy implication of food and farming developments
internationally. (Hudson, n/d) Avery has been an outspoken critic of non-conventional farming
and has authored many articles and books such as Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic:
the Environmental Triumph of High-Yield Farming (Hudson Institute, 1995).
In this particular Avery article, he wrote, Without the false idea that organic food is safer
for people, parents might worry about their childrens food being fertilized with pathogen-laden
animal manure. (Avery, 2000) This quote has sparked debate from many supporters of the
organic and sustainability movements, scientists, and agricultural scholars that find the statement
erroneous and destructive to public perception.
In a reply to Newsweek Magazine October 13, 2000, Larry Pletcher, President of the
Northeast Organic Farming Association-N.H. states Averygives the false impression that
consumers should be more concerned about E. coli bacteria in organic produce as opposed to
conventional produce. In fact, the reverse is true. Both organic and conventional growers often
use cattle manure as fertilizer. The difference is that organic-certification regulations prohibit
organic growers from using raw manure in ways that would contaminate food crops
Conventional growers are currently not subject to these regulations. (Newsweek, 2000)

REFUTED DENNIS AVERY AVOWAL

Averys statement contained false data about pesticide residue analysis in organic vs.
conventional produce (Bell, 2000). ABC rebutted the story, which motivated negative comments
from Avery in his 08/18/2000 article. (Rutenberg and Barringer, 2000) Researchers from the
CDC, whose E. coli data was quoted by Avery, stated that there was no basis for Averys
statements. (Lotter, 2003)
In the year prior to Mr. Averys fallacious statement he went on record with similar
proclamations in a magazine published by his employer, he wrote, Organic foods have clearly
become the deadliest food choice. According to the New York Times, Mr. Averys research was
based on statements made by Dr. Robert Lake, of the Center for Food Safety and Nutrition. Dr.
Lake denied making any correlation between his studies and organic foods. (Burros, 1999) Mr.
Avery has misrepresented and convoluted supporting evidence prior to his Bridge News release.
FAIR is a national media watch group that offers well-documented criticism of media
bias and censorship since 1986. In a letter addressed to ABC News, Rachel Coen, the
Communications Coordinator for FAIR, makes note of a preemptive motivator in Dennis Averys
bias. She notes that his current position as the director of the Center for Global Food Issues for
the Hudson Institute, which receives funding from chemical companies like Monsanto, DuPont,
and others, would have enlightened the viewers about Averys allegiance. (Coen, 2000)
Misleading statements aimed at Organic Agriculture, such as Averys, have increased in
occurrence and the industry has come under occasional withering and unfair attacks. (Lotter,
2003) Analogous reports like Averys are deceptive and harmful to the publics perception of
Organic Agriculture and require time and precious resources to refute them.
References

REFUTED DENNIS AVERY AVOWAL

Avery, D. (2002). An ABC Reporter Riles the Organic Farm Movement. Bridge News. Retrieved
from http://www.hudson.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publication_details
&id=677
Bell, L. (2000). Food Fight. (cover story). Public Relations Tactics, 7(12), 1.
Burros, M. (1999, February 17). Eating well; Anti-Organic, And Flawed. The New York Times.
Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1999/02/17/dining/eating-well-anti-organic-andflawed.html?src=pm
Coen, R. (2000). FAIR. Retrieved from http://www.fair.org/activism/stossel-organics.html
Hudson Institute. (n/d). Retrieved from http://www.hudson.org/learn/index.cfm?fuseaction=
staff_bio&eid=AverDenn
Lotter, D. (2003, January 01). Organic Agriculture. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture. 21, 4, 59128.
A Growing Cornucopia of Organic Opinions. (2002, October 13). Newsweek/The Daily Beast.
Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2002/10/13/a-growingcornucopia-of-organic-opinions.html
Rutenberg, J. & Barringer, F. (2000). MEDIA; Apology highlights ABC Reporters
Contrarian Image. New York Times. Aug. 14. C. p.1.