Like his peers, Merced County, Calif., farmer Cannon Michael is fed up with the Environmental Working Group’s annual ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of so-called consumer alerts about pesticide contaminated fresh fruits and vegetables.

EWG’s list, collected from USDA and Food and Drug Administration testing data, reports such things as: pesticides detected on “up to 98 percent of the more than 700 apple samples tested,” and “33 unapproved pesticides (were found) on 44 percent of the cilantro samples tested.”

“What a bunch of self-serving scare tactics not based on science that only serve to degrade the American farmer and discourage the public from eating perfectly safe and nourishing food,” said Michael.

“So there were detections — almost entirely below the tolerances set by the EPA. Talk about a bunch of misinformation,” said Michael, the sixth-generation to farm on the family’s Bowles Farming near Los Banos, Calif.

“It is amazing these people can get away with this stuff. I would eat any of the so called ‘Dirty Dozen’ and feed them to my boys without worrying one bit. Totally insane!” said the father of three boys ages nine, eight and six.

“We actually live on a farm and our house is adjacent to a field where we sometimes even apply pesticides,” said the University of California, Berkeley graduate.

“A guide to protect you from a 0.3 percent chance that a food is over the tolerance level set is unbelievable. The tolerances are set by science and yet there is no mention of that in the news release. The Environmental Working Group just twist things to fit its agenda,” said Michael, who is a California Ag Leadership graduate and the current chairman of the California Cotton Growers Association. He is also active in many other agricultural groups.

EWG’s annual report is picked up without question by major news outlets and agriculture annually cringes at what Michael and others called distortion of the true facts.

“I walk in the same fields that my workers do. We spray (pesticides) as little as possible. We use IPM to determine when to treat.