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The Toxic Chemicals Polluting Our Water: Ken Cook on PFAS, Glyphosate, GMOs and More

By February 5, 2024March 12th, 2024No Comments
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Episode #811



How can we ensure the safety of our food, water, and consumer products?

Recent headlines underscore the earnest distress surrounding food and environmental safety. For instance, California has recently taken steps to ban four harmful food additives; Bayer—the parent company of Monsanto—has been ordered to pay $2.25 billion concerning Roundup; and studies have detected that “forever chemicals” are present in our drinking water and bloodstreams.

Here to offer sound guidance is Ken Cook, the President and co-founder of the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Ken is recognized as one of the environmental community’s most prominent and influential critics of industrial agriculture and the nation’s broken approach to protecting families and children from toxic substances. In numerous media interviews, he has contributed to discussions on food, agriculture, and toxics policy, such as appearances on 60 Minutes, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, the Today Show, and more. Regularly testifying before Congressional committees, Ken has also delivered well-received talks at various venues, including the White House, South by Southwest, and TedX.

Under Ken’s guidance, EWG has been at the forefront of digital innovation, introducing technologies that empower American families. These user-friendly, science-driven tools assist in minimizing exposure to potentially harmful ingredients found in food, drinking water, cosmetics, and various household products. Capitol Hill’s closely-read newspaper, The Hill, has called EWG “the tip of the green movement’s spear.”

“There are things you can do to dramatically reduce your exposure to dangerous forever chemicals. You have agency.”


Today, we explore the influence of lobbying on environmental policy and underscore the critical need to rebuild trust in regulatory bodies. Our discussion encompasses various topics, including harmful chemicals in personal care products and the associated risks of glyphosate. We also examine the divergent regulatory approaches between Europe and the US, emphasizing the importance of transparency in the food industry.

Ken elucidates on agricultural subsidies, the farm bill, and the pivotal role of consumer choices in instigating positive change across industries. The episode concludes by spotlighting the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists, urging conscious consumer choices, and acknowledging young people’s substantial impact in shaping a more positive future.

Additionally, we provide practical ways for everyone to make more informed decisions when shopping, encouraging the utilization of the valuable resources and guides offered by the EWG.

For those who prefer a visual experience, the conversation is available on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

I admire Ken’s resilience in a field where progress can be slow and occasionally disheartening. This one is a must-listen if you seek to understand more about the agency overseeing the consumer products you select for yourself and your family.


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