Smoking causes cancer. But fresh fruits and vegetables?

That’s the implication — whether intended or not — in a report, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” recently submitted to President Obama.

In the report, a panel of alleged experts commissioned by Obama waves red flags over a variety of environmental pollutants and their links to cancer.

While it’s probably true that, as the report says, “exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers,” there is no evidence that consumers exposed to trace amounts of pesticide residue on fresh produce are at any higher risk of cancer.

We are far from alone in our criticism of the Obama report. Doctors from the American Cancer Society, among others, say it overstates the link between environmental pollutants and cancer. Only a tiny fraction of cancers can be traced to pollutants, they say, and suggesting otherwise could get in the way of Americans leading healthier lives.

Prevention efforts focused on preventing tobacco use and obesity, they say, would be far more fruitful.

The produce industry should be grateful that the president and first lady, with their Let’s Move campaign, are shining such bright lights on childhood obesity. The opportunities for fresh fruit and vegetable consumption gains are great.

But efforts to pit organic (or sometimes locally grown) produce against conventionally grown are counterproductive and misleading. The majority of consumers still choose conventional fruits and vegetables, and for good reason: They can make them healthier, and they’re safe.

Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.