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WGA’s Secret Science Panel

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, February 14, 2007

It is fair to say that the very purpose of the California Marketing Agreement that will cover spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens is to build regulatory and consumer confidence.

In order to do that, we need not only a defensible procedure — be it regulation by government, private entities or some other alternative — but we need substantive standards that can be defended. But the way Western Growers Association has handled the drafting of the GAP documents has put the industry in a highly suspect position.

Supposedly, there is a secret panel of scientists meeting to draft out the proposed GAP standards, which will be science-based. In essence, the WGA has chosen to keep secret the kind of information that is essential to build confidence in this process.

Let us ask five simple questions:

  1. Who is on this committee and how were they selected?
  2. Do they have any conflicts of interest?
  3. Have they each endorsed the draft GAP document?
  4. Have they been asked to draw up dissenting reports on areas where they would like to see different standards?
  5. What was the charge given the scientists?

And we’ll add two really big questions:

Why is all this a secret?

How will refusing to answer these questions build regulatory and consumer confidence?

The assumption by the consumer media, politicians and regulatory bodies will be that this is all being kept a secret because the panel wouldn’t reflect very well on the industry.

So let us head this off at the pass: WGA should release the composition of the panel right now.

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