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Date:

May 16, 2000

Subject:

Organic Article - 2 Contributions

 

- http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

Date: May 16 2000 14:51:46 EDT
From: "Kershen, Drew L"
Subject: Organic Foods -- Nick Clark, Leeds Univ. UK


Mr. Clark:

I cannot respond to the aflatoxin in the mushrooms that Tesco recently
removed from its shelves. I will respond to the article's comment about
the Avery piece.

Dennis Avery never claimed that the Center for Disease Control did a
study on the safety of organic foods. Mr. Avery said (emphasis provided)
"... based on data compiled by the Center for Disease Control ..." Mr.
Avery did the study by using data on illness compiled by the CDC reported
to the CDC from eating foods. I do not know where I saw the CDC data but
I have seen the data. Mr. Avery interpreted the data.

When you look at the data, Mr. Avery is correct -- of the food
illnesses reported to CDC, organic foods were connected to the illnesses at
the rate that Mr. Avery calculated. The weakness in Mr. Avery's
interpretation is that the data does not provide evidence that it was the
organic production methods that gave rise to the contamination. The
contamination could have come from other sources (food handlers' hands, for
example) that have nothing to do with organic production. On the other
hand if you use the precautionary principle ... !!

As for writing the the Guardian newspaper -- after the Guardian
recently printed an article claiming that the US was dumping dangerous food
(i.e. genetically enhanced crops) on starving Africans, Nobel winner Dr.
Norman Borlaug wrote a response -- blistering or scathing are my adjectives
to describe the response. It is also my understanding that the Guardian
never printed Dr. Borlaug's letter. Instead the Guardian resurrected a
two-year old study, misrepresented the study, and blamed Dr. Barloug for
causing massive mental retardation in Latin America, Asia, and Africa
through his work to create high-yielding dwarf crops (rice and wheat
primarily), for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In light of
the Guardian's treatment of a Nobel Peace prize-winner, I think writing
the Guardian is a not likely to be a good use of time and energy.

Best regards,

Drew

Drew L. Kershen
Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law
University of Oklahoma College of Law
Norman, OK 73019-5081
(405) 325-4784
FAX (405) 325-6282
dkershen@ou.ed
________________________________________

Date: May 16 2000 16:22:09 EDT
From: Alex Avery
Subject: Re: Six Contributions


To The Guardian

Dear Sir or Madam, in the story "Is organic food dangerous?" Page 9,
section G2, you wrote:

"In 1998, Avery published "The Hidden Dangers in Organic Food"
in American Outlook, a quarterly Hudson Institute publication. It
began: "According to recent data compiled by the US Centers for
Disease Control (CDC), people who eat organic and 'natural' foods
are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be
attacked by a deadly new strain of Ecoli bacteria (0157:H7)."
The trouble was, the CDC denied ever having done the studies."

Actually, you will notice that Mr. Avery never contended that the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control had conducted specific studies comparing the
foodborne illness risk in conventional vs. organic food. This is a ruse
generated by the organic foods industry to protect themselves. Mr. Avery
stated only that "recent data compiled by the U.S. CDC" indicated a higher
foodborne illness risk. The CDC data do exist. If you are unable to
obtain these data directly from the U.S. CDC, *(Table 1: Clusters/Outbreaks
of E. coli O157:H7 infections reported to CDC in 1996) I'd be happy to
supply you with a copy of the data we obtained from that agency. Of the
324 cases of E. coli O157:H7 in 1996 traced by the CDC back to contaminated
food, 118 were from organic or natural foods. Considering that organic and
natural foods account for less than 2% of the total food supply, but more
than one third of all foodborne cases, the "eight times" greater risk
statement is conservative.

Please correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

Alex Avery
Director of Research and Education
Center for Global Food Issues
Hudson Institute
(540) 337-6354
800-876-8011
aavery@rica.net
www.cgfi.org
www.cgfi.com

>Date: May 16 2000 06:20:45 EDT
>From: "N.R. CLARK"
>Subject: Organic article
>
>While reading my paper today I cvan across an apeice about teh
>safety of organic fodd bu a paper that is very anti GM and very pro
>organic, surprise surprise organic is safe they say.
>The reason I write is that there are serval things they mention as
>false that I had read people in the forum saying as true
>The main one is quoted before, I have not heard the source of this
>information before but it has been quoted in many a different
>source, it is true or not?
>
>"In 1998, Avery published "The Hidden Dangers in Organic Food"
>in American Outlook, a quarterly Hudson Institute publication. It
>began: "According to recent data compiled by the US Centers for
>Disease Control (CDC), people who eat organic and 'natural' foods
>are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be
>attacked by a deadly new strain of Ecoli bacteria (0157:H7)."
>The trouble was, the CDC denied ever having done the studies."
>
>If it is true can somebody, or many people even send letters to the
>editor with source or references for this or other studied which
>show the same end.
>They also claim that the E.coli found in teh Tesce mustrooms, (see
>the e-mail from before) was a non dangerous one, not being a
>mircobiologist I can not comment.
>The full text can be found at
>http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/health/story/0,3605,221400,00.h
>tml
>
>Letter should be sent to letters@guardian.co.uk
>A reference for the article, Page 9 in the G2 section, Is organic
>food dangerous? needs to be included, as does a full postal
>address.
>Nick Clark
>N Clark bgy7nrc@leeds.ac.uk

Alex A. Avery
Director of Research and Education
Center for Global Food Issues
Hudson Institute
P.O. Box 202
Churchville, VA 24421
(540) 337-6354
fax: (540) 337-8593
email: aavery@rica.net

www.cgfi.com