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294693 (http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtPrint/EMIHC000/333/7228/294693.html?k

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ABC Reporter Apologizes For Organic Foods Report

Associated Press
August 12, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) - Reporter John Stossel apologized Friday night on ABC's ''20/20'' for using inaccurate information in two earlier reports on the safety of organic food.

``All we have in this business is our credibility - your trust that we get it right,'' Stossel said. ``I'll make every effort to see it never happens again.''

Stossel prefaced the apology by defending other aspects of the reports and said the mistakes were inadvertent.

The apology was ordered by ABC News, which also reprimanded Stossel and suspended a producer. Critics wanted Stossel fired.

In the reports, aired in February and again July 7, Stossel said organic food was no safer than regular food and warned it could even be dangerous.

Stossel reported that an examination of produce conducted for ABC News found that there was no pesticide residue on either conventional samples or organic ones.

After critics complained, ABC investigated the report and found that no such test had been done. Earlier, ABC had said Stossel relied on inaccurate information provided by a staff member. Producer David Fitzpatrick apparently believed that a test done on chicken also was performed on produce.

Some critics weren't satisfied with Stossel's apology Friday.

``John Stossel apologized tonight with another lie, which raises serious questions about ABC's willingness to correct its own mistakes,'' said Mike Casey, a spokesman the Washington-based Environmental Working Group.

Casey said the reporter had maintained that accurate tests had been performed for bacteria, but Casey said the environmental group had posted documents from the USDA on its Web site that contradicted Stossel's assertions.

On Friday, the Internet opinion journal TomPaine.com took out an advertisement on the editorial page of The New York Times promoting the group's complaints and stating: ``ABC News has a credibility problem. His name is John Stossel.''

Stossel was hired by ABC in 1981 and has won acclaim for taking on tough stories, often giving a contrarian view to topics such as government regulation and defendants who claim to be victims. He has received 19 Emmy Awards and been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club.

ABC has not addressed why the errors were repeated in July, after environmental groups had complained of inaccuracies.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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