Networks Swallow Whole a Study Linking Crop Pesticides to ADHD

The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree and, in the case of the mainstream media, the analysis doesn’t fall far from the network agenda.


On May 17, NBC’s “Today” and CBS’ “Early Show,” along with all three network evening news programs, discussed a recent study in the medical journal Pediatrics linking pesticides used on fruit and vegetables to ADHD with their in-house medical analysts. The networks weighted their analysts’ viewpoints over the CropLife America response 70 to 1.


The Pediatrics study asserted a correlation between pesticides used on fruits and vegetables and ADHD symptoms in children. The study focused on 1,139 children from 2000-2004 but only 119 met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.


Croplife America, which represents the crop protection and pest control product companies, found the study far less persuasive, stating:


 “…Our review of the published journal story in "Pediatrics," which makes summary of the study, leads us to believe much more research is needed to ascertain if there is a direct link between exposure to organophosphate pesticides and the development of ADHD in children. All crop protection products are extensively reviewed by regulatory agencies before approval for market use.”


None of the network broadcasts presented this argument. ABC, CBS, and NBC dedicated just over six minutes to the story and both the “Today Show” and CBS “Early Show” discussed it, but only ABC News managed to air five seconds of Croplife America’s response. Instead, in-house medical reporters Richard Besser, Jennifer Ashton and Nancy Snyderman discussed ways parents could protect their children from another food-industry problem.


“The headline might as well read ‘Attention Parents,’” Brian Williams said as he introduced the story on NBC Nightly News, setting up Snyderman before she even spoke.


The advice ranged from Ashton’s scientific advice of “washing fruits and vegetables” to Snyderman attempting to steer parents away from the big stores.


“Buy local and for heaven’s sake, know where you’re getting your food from,” Snyderman said to Williams.


So what do the networks want children to eat? According to Snyderman, childhood obesity is already an epidemic and the Center for Science in the Public Interest says children shouldn’t eat the school lunches liberals once demanded for children. The media breathlessly reported the groundbreaking discovery that (too much) fast food consumption causes obesity. Now, healthy fruits and vegetables may cause ADHD. They’re running out of acceptable foods for children.


Too bad kids can’t eat inane observations, like this from Dianne Sawyer on the recommendation to peel fruits and vegetables to avoid pesticides:


“As you know, you can’t peel a blueberry.”