Fireside Chat: EWG's Ken Cook on Environment and Health in the Trump Administration

January 24, 2017
2:00 pm US Eastern Time

Listen to Recording


What do you think the 2016 US Presidential election results mean for environmental health over the coming four years? What might be the impact on research funding and priorities? Chemical regulation? Children’s health? Community health?

On this call Michael Lerner, PhD, President of Commonweal, and Ken Cook, MS, President and Co-founder of the Environmental Working Group, discussed the implications of the recent election results for the field of environmental health, including both challenges and opportunities. Following the discussion between Michael and Mr. Cook, we opened the call for a Q&A with participants.

Featured Speaker

KenCookKen Cook, MS, president and co-founder of Environmental Working Group (EWG), is widely recognized as one of the environmental community’s most prominent and influential critics of industrial agriculture, U.S. food and farm policy and the nation’s broken approach to protecting families and children from toxic substances.

Under Mr. Cook’s leadership over the past 20 years, EWG has pioneered the use of digital technologies to expose the harms done by misconceived crop subsidies, crop insurance and runaway agricultural pollution. The organization has also empowered American families with easy-to-use, data-driven tools to help reduce their exposure to potentially harmful ingredients in foods, drinking water, cosmetics and other household products. These unique digital resources are searched hundreds of millions of times by consumers, journalists and policy makers. 

In the 1990s, EWG’s research was a major factor in the passage of the landmark pesticide reform law, the Food Quality Protection Act. EWG was among the first to draw attention to the health threat posed by the weed-killer atrazine and conducted the first extensive tests for the chemical in tap water in 29 Midwest cities. In the last several years Mr. Cook and EWG have been in the forefront of national and state campaigns to require the labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients. 

Capitol Hill’s closely read newspaper, The Hill, regularly lists Mr. Cook in its annual roster of Washington’s top lobbyists. In 2013 it said Cook’s “influence spans the country” and called EWG “the tip of the green movement’s spear when it comes to agriculture and food policy.”

In May 2014, Mr. Cook received the prestigious “Champion for Children Award” from the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Public Health. The award recognized Cook as an “Advocate for Environmental Health and Protector of Children and Future Generations."

Mr. Cook is a board member of Food Policy Action (and founding chairman), Organic Voices and the Amazon Conservation Team and a former member of the board of the Organic Center. He earned an MS in soil science at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The call was moderated by Michael Lerner, PhD, President of Commonweal and co-founder of CHE. The call will last 60 minutes and be recorded.

This call is part of the series "Fireside Chat." In this series we explore challenges and opportunities for environmental health under the new Trump Administration. Our focus will be a conversation between CHE leaders, environmental health science and policy experts and call participants.