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Date:

September 29, 2006

Subject:

Bt Brinjal in India; Second generation Bt cotton; India eyes bumper cotton harvest; Agriculture chief urges farmers to use biotech

 

Today in AgBioView from www.agbioworld.org: September 29, 2006

* Re: Drought Tolerance
* Re: Beta Carotene
* Longitudinal Microbiological Survey of Fresh Produce Grown by Farmers in the Upper Midwest
* A LONG ROUGH RIDE FOR Bt BRINJAL IN INDIA
* ISAAA reviews biotechnology and its future
* What will second generation Bt cotton bring to table?
* India eyes bumper cotton harvest
* Agriculture chief urges farmers to use biotech
* E. coli haunts victims long after outbreak
* Businessman a true believer in irradiation

Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 12:00:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: "oyetade omowunmi"
Subject: response to agrobiotech view

i need more publications,journals and references on "genes for drought-tolerance in maize,yam and cowpea .Thanks for all your scientific news, they are sources of inspiration to my research work.
**********************

From: "Mertxe de Renobales"
Subject: Re: GM Crops Saving Farms from Drought; Golden Rice in 3 Years; Beta-carotene-rich Maize; Increase of Biotechnology in India
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 15:11:54 +0200

It appears that the beta-carotene-rich maize is conventional. Is this correct?

thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Mertxe de Renobales Scheifler
mertxe.derenobales@ehu.es

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/news/ng.asp?n=70826-syngenta-beta-carotene-vitamin-a-deficiency-biofortication
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http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2006/00000069/00000008/art00022;jsessionid=7lo29cu662ap.alice

Longitudinal Microbiological Survey of Fresh Produce Grown by Farmers in the Upper Midwest

By Mukherjee, Avik1; Speh, Dorinda2; Jones, Aaron T.1; Buesing, Kathleen M.1; Diez-Gonzalez, Francisco1

Source: Journal of Food Protection, Volume 69, Number 8, August 2006, pp. 1928-1936(9)

Abstract:

Microbiological analyses of fruits and vegetables produced by farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin were conducted to determine coliform and Escherichia coli counts and the prevalence of E. coli, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7. During the 2003 and 2004 harvest seasons, 14 organic farms (certified by accredited organic agencies), 30 semiorganic farms (used organic practices but not certified), and 19 conventional farms were sampled to analyze 2,029 preharvest produce samples (473 organic, 911 semiorganic, and 645 conventional). Produce varieties included mainly lettuces, leafy greens, cabbages, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, and berries. Semiorganic and organic farms provided the majority of leafy greens and lettuces. Produce samples from the three farm types had average coliform counts of 1.5 to 2.4 log most probable number per g. Conventional produce had either significantly lower or similar coliform populations compared with the semiorganic and organic produce. None of the produce samples collected during the 2 years of this study were contaminated with Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7. E. coli contamination was detected in 8% of the samples, and leafy greens, lettuces, and cabbages had significantly higher E. coli prevalence than did all the other produce types in both years for the three farm types. The prevalence of E. coli contamination by produce type was not significantly different between the three farm types during these 2 years, with the exception of organic leafy greens, in which E. coli prevalence was one-third that of semiorganic leafy greens in 2003. These results indicate that the preharvest microbiological quality of produce from the three types of farms was very similar during these two seasons and that produce type appears to be more likely than farm type to influence E. coli contamination.
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http://www.fbae.org/Channels/Views/a_long_rough_ride_for_bt_brinjal.htm

A LONG ROUGH RIDE FOR Bt BRINJAL IN INDIA

- Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, September 26, 2006, By C Kameswara Rao

The fruit and shoot borer (Leucinodes orbonalis) of brinjal causes crop losses of 50 to 70 per cent. Farmers are prone to an indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides around 25 to 80 sprays and this involves heavy expenditure and results in blemished fruits. Excessive chemical use also leads to a build up of pesticide residues in the produce, destruction of beneficial insects, pest resurgence, exposure of farm workers to pesticides and environmental pollution. Cry 1 Ac gene from Bacillus thuringiensis inserted into brinjal varieties (Bt brinjal), like Bt cotton, provides an inbuilt pest control mechanism to save the crop from damage, reduce cultivation costs and prevent the incidental health and environmental hazards.

Mahyco have developed Bt brinjal hybrids, and also have entered into a partnership with public institutions to develop local varieties with the Bt gene.

Mahyco approached the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) for permission to conduct large-scale open field trials. No sooner, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad and Greenpeace India trashed the concept of Bt brinjal, brought out position papers and represented to the GEAC against Mahyco’s request. Though there were also representations to the GEAC in favour of Bt brinjal, the GEAC was fair to the anti-tech lobby, and constituted a Committee to look into this contentious issue. Not satisfied with the composition of GEAC’s Committee, the anti-tech lobby has constituted its own ‘independent Committee of experts’, a sort of a parallel ‘GEAC’. Although apparently this Committee is meant to block Bt brinjal, nothing prevents it from gaining fresh lease of life to pontify on other genetically engineered crops.

A number of questions raised by the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Greenpeace regarding Bt brinjal were discussed on this site earlier.

Bt brinjal was subjected to a variety of tests and analyses and the details are available on the website of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. None of these studies have indicated any negative possibilities that warrant banning Bt brinjal from commercial cultivation.

During the development of Bt brinjal by Mahyco since the year 2000, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR, Government of India) and the Review Committee on Genetic Modification (RCGM, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India) were monitoring multi-location field trials. The Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, an ICAR institution, which has a considerable experience with Bt brinjal, is also associated. A number of private and public sector institutions/organizations are involved in the mandatory and supplementary tests and analyses, as below:

a) Acute oral toxicity in rats, mucous membrane irritation tests in female rabbits, and primary skin irritation tests in rabbits: Intox, Pune.
b) Effects on non-target and beneficial insects: All India Co-ordinate Research Project (Vegetable Crops), Varanasi.
c) Assessment of allergenicity: Rallis India Ltd., Bangalore.
d) Dietary feed responses of the common carp and growth performances: Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai.
e) Effects on broiler chickens: Central Avian Research Institute, Izatnagar.
f) Subchronic feeding tests on rabbits and goats: Advinus Therapeutic, Bangalore.
g) Feeding experiments on cows: GB Pant University of Agricultural Sciences, Pantnagar.
h) Molecular finger printing and chemical studies: Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad.

This belies the charge that open field trials of Bt brinjal are being conducted by the companies and without independent verification of the safety claims made by the product developers. If one believes the anti-tech lobby, all these public and private sector investigating agencies are in collusion with the product developers.

Efficacy studies showed that Bt brinjal varieties effectively controlled the brinjal stem and fruit borer and the American bollworm, with an insect mortality of 98 per cent.

Various other parameters comparing Bt and non-Bt varieties of brinjal, such as pollen flow, seed germination and weediness, aggressiveness, accumulation of Bt proteins in the soil, soil micro-biota, Substantial Equivalence, protein expression, baseline susceptibility, the extent of refugium needed and its benefits and socio-economic and risk assessment, etc., were examined, none of which indicates that Bt brinjal is undesirable.

The Bt brinjal varieties were found to be Substantially Equivalent to their non-Bt isogenics in such factors as chemical constituents, moisture, proteins, oil, ash, carbohydrates, calories per fruit, nitrogen, ash and crude fiber contents in leaf, stem and root tissues, cooking qualities and protein estimation in cooked fruits.

None of this goes well with the protestors.

While considering a Public Interest Litigation against all genetically engineered (GE) products, the Supreme Court of India (SCI) directed the GEAC recently, not to accord approval for fresh field trials of GE crops and this has put Mahyco’s application for large-scale open field trials of Bt brinjal on hold. Though the ruling of the SCI, however, does not bar the GEAC’s brinjal Committee from functioning, Bt brinjal has still a long rough road to travel to commercialization.
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http://www.truthabouttrade.org/article.asp?id=6342

Ten years later: ISAAA reviews biotechnology and its future

- FoodNavigator.com, by Lorraine Heller, Sept 25, 2006

The next decade is set to see a global doubling in biotech crop availability, as countries become increasingly less skeptical of the technology after witnessing its benefits over the past ten years, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

With last year marking the tenth anniversary of the commercialization of biotech crops globally, chair of the ISAAA board of directors Clive James this week presented a review of the past decade of biotechnology, together with an examination of its future prospects.

Speaking at the World Grains Summit – a forum and exhibition designed to examine the latest developments in grain-based science and technology – James said that by 2015 it is estimated that the number of countries growing biotech crops will “at least double”, from 21 in 2005 to around 40.

The number of biotech farmers around the world are forecast to increase from 8.5m to 20m, while the global area planted with genetically modified crops will increase from 222m acres to 500m acres.

And these, he said, are “conservative estimates”.

According to the ISAAA, a non-profit organization designed to promote biotechnology in developing countries, interest in and acceptance of biotechnology is rapidly increasing as countries become increasingly convinced of its benefits on an environmental and economic level.

“What we’re seeing is an impetus which has changed completely. Countries see how other countries have benefited, and they’re thinking ‘why not us too?’” said James.

Most growth in biotechnology during the next ten years is expected to occur in key developing countries of Asia, led by China and India, as well as in Pakistan and Vietnam. This shows a marked global expansion from the previous decade’s focus on the Americas.

Brazil also has an enormous potential to grow to be the leading GM crop producer in Latin America, while the number of biotech countries in Africa is expected to increase “modestly” beyond the current South African monopoly. European Union countries – traditionally more skeptical of the technology – are expected to see a “slow to modest” growth.

One indication that the world is warming to biotechnology is the rate at which global interest has been increasing. The ISAAA sends out 250,000 e-mails per month to interested subscribers across the globe, and the figure is growing at 2,000 per month.

And its latest annual report reached around 500m individuals through extensive media coverage, according to James. Some 95 percent of the articles published were positive or neutral, he said, which shows a huge shift in perception since 1988, when around 90 percent of articles were negative.

But the spread of biotechnology will not occur without challenges, he added.

“When we first started, we asked ‘what are the risks?’ We now have a very solid database that is both consistent and compelling in favor of biotechnology. But we need to continue with responsible and efficient stewardship.”

“We need improved communication with society and we need to take knowledge-based decisions regarding biotechnology crops.”

Regulation is also an issue that needs to be addressed, according to James, who said that this needs to be simplified.

“The bar is set too high for developing countries. With the solid knowledge base that we have, we should be able to reduce regulation and still be responsible,” he said.

In a review of the industry’s development over the past decade, James examined how biotechnology has delivered on the promises made at the outset.

These promises included an improved productivity and income, with yields during the period reporting an increase of 5-40 percent, and total biotech crop production in 2005 reaching a value of $50bn.

Another impact of genetically modified agriculture has been the protection of biodiversity, said James, since doubling crop production on the same area of land has played a significant role in saving forests.

Another environmental impact has been a reduction in the need for “external inputs”, such as pesticides, and the conservation of soil and water, which paves the way to sustainability.

Biotechnology has also contributed to a stability of yield, with promising progress having been made with drought tolerance.

A final impact highlighted by James is the social benefit achieved - the alleviation of poverty – with an improved environment and health and time saving technology leading to more affordable food, feed and fiber.

“What we see today is just the very small tip of the iceberg,” said James, who cautioned that a global approach to biotechnology must be based on facts and knowledge, not on an attempt to market fear.

“If you say no to this technology, you’re saying no to the whole iceberg. Be careful about the decision you take and its consequences,” he told an audience of scientists and food manufacturers.

“The biggest pollutant in the world today is poverty. The potential we have in the second decade to address this pollutant is huge. Biotechnology transcends a much deeper issue if you look at what addressing poverty means in terms of peace.”

“The greatest risk associated with this technology is not to use it,” he concluded.
*******************************

http://southwestfarmpress.com/news/092806-bt-cotton/

What will second generation Bt cotton bring to table?

- Southwest Farm Press, Sep 28, 2006, By Elton Robinson

Cotton producers who plant second generation Bt cottons like Bollgard II, WideStrike and VipCot may not spray less or yield more cotton in the short term. But they should see improved control of worm pests and will have set the bar for resistance management at a very high level.

Two new, two-gene products — Bollgard II, which has been in cotton fields since 2003, and WideStrike, which has been commercially available since 2005 — have the gene that expresses the Cry1Ac protein. Bollgard II’s second protein is Cry2Ab; WideStrike has Cry1f.

A third product, VipCot, the result of a cooperative effort between Syngenta and Delta Pine Land Co., is not yet commercially available.

The new technologies have improved the spectrum of worm control, according to Stewart. “There are also some subtle differences in these technologies. It’s not going to show up in most environments, most years. But when you have a big bollworm year or a big fall armyworm year you might be able to tease apart the technology.”

As with Bollgard, WideStrike and Bollgard II will provide great control of tobacco budworm, according to Stewart.

“Original Bollgard was fair on bollworm and less than that on some other pests, like fall armyworm. “Bollgard II is excellent on bollworm. We think WideStrike is somewhere between the two based on all the data we’ve collected.

“But the big thing that the additional gene will bring, hopefully, is to prevent resistance from developing to these technologies as quickly. The idea is that if you have one gene, that’s good, but resistance can develop. If you have two genes and the mode of action is different enough, it’s unlikely that any one insect will be resistant to both at the same time.

“The newer technologies also have a large advantage over original Bollgard for fall armyworm and loopers. That’s where you’re going to really see improvement. With fall armyworm, we think WideStrike might be a bit better than Bollgard II.

“If I were to choose a Bt technology based on the pure efficacy of that product for west Tennessee, I would probably pick Bollgard II because we think it’s a little better on bollworms than the WideStrike technology and that is the primary pest in this environment.

“If I were in another environment where I had a lot of fall armyworms or a mixture of fall armyworms and bollworms, it may be a tougher decision.

“The reality of the situation is that even original Bollgard is pretty good most of the time. And growers are probably going to choose technology by what variety they want to grow.”

Stewart noted that there is still a refuge requirement for the second generation of Bt cotton — planting some amount of Bt cotton and managing it according to specific guidelines. But there is a proposal to go to a so-called natural refuge for Bollgard II.

“Essentially Monsanto is trying to convince EPA that the technology is good enough and there are enough other sources of tobacco budworm and bollworm in the environment that we don’t need the structured, non-Bt cotton refuge in Bollgard II. They’ve made a good case, so we’ll see what the EPA decides.”

Walt Mullins, Monsanto’s technical manager for Bollgard and Bollgard II, hopes a decision will come from EPA in late September, “but certainly enough in time for growers to know something before the 2007 season.”

Mullins said that two-gene products like Bollgard II have significantly improved inherent resistance management potential in Bt cotton, one reason why original Bollgard technology, which contains a single gene, will be available only through the 2009 season.

“In Australia, they have already outlawed the use of a single gene product because of their concern for resistance management.

“We know that it will take a while to get the Bollgard II varieties up to the performance level we need. We’ve made great strides and by 2009, we should be there.”

While second generation Bt cottons offer better control over original Bt technology, “This doesn’t mean that there will be less spraying overall because we do have other pests, such as plant bugs and stink bugs,” Stewart said. “But you’re not going to be specifically targeting the caterpillars as often.”

Stewart isn’t sure that improved protection will also provide a yield increase for cotton producers. “Truth is, I don’t have a lot of data in Tennessee to say that’s going to happen. We have several years of data and have not seen a remarkable, consistent yield bump in Bollgard II or WideStrike versus Bollgard. But it’s certainly something that could happen in the right year, if we have enough pressure.”

Stewart stressed that it will not be unusual to see worms in Bollgard II or WideStrike cotton. “I do expect the new technologies to narrow the window for worrying about worms to a seven-day to 10-day period.”

The new technologies are also going to change how cotton is scouted, according to Stewart. “We’re doing a lot of work right now, evaluating stink bug and plant bug thresholds and how to sample for them.

“I’m already steering producers away from the old visual worm-checking techniques. All our scouting techniques in the past have always been based on finding worms. The bugs are going to be more important in this new system, particularly in Tennessee.”

Entomologists are evaluating sweep nets, drop cloths, visual and boll damage sampling techniques. After one year of data collection, the drop cloth is emerging as perhaps the most efficient method of sampling.

“I can do 10 drop cloths in 10 minutes. You can’t look at 25 plants in 10 minutes and do a good job. We also need six or seven samples to get the kind of confidence we need.”

But more changes in scouting are ahead, according to Stewart. “I think that over the next few years, consultants are going to start developing some bug-specific samples that are going to make scouting a little easier.”
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http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/index3.asp?cnd=9/29/2006§ion_id=24&newsid=39215&spcl=no

India eyes bumper cotton harvest

- Financial Express, 9/29/2006

AHMEDABAD, Sept 28 (Reuters): India's cotton harvest is gaining pace and industry officials are optimistic of a bumper yield of 26 million bales (170 kg each) in the year ending September 2007, traders said Thursday.

While harvesting is well underway in the major cotton growing states of Gujarat, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, scattered rains have delayed work in coastal areas of Maharashtra, and in Andhra Pradesh, they said.

India produced a record 24.2 million bales of cotton in 2005-2006 (Oct-Sept), 12 per cent up on a year earlier.

"Harvesting operations have begun in Punjab, Gujarat. Until now there has been no report of pest attack," said Manoj Gala, a cotton trader in Gujarat, India's leading cotton state.

"The cotton quality is good and we are expecting plenty of export orders."

Farm ministry officials said they expect much of the output to be exported to China, Taiwan and the Middle East.

Last year, cotton exports from India were estimated at around 4.6 million bales, of which Gujarat exported 3.9 million, mainly to China, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

"A reduction in the prices of transgenic cotton seeds and plenty of rainfall have given a very high yield. High profit margins have also lured farmers to shift to cotton cultivation," said K.B. Patel of the All Gujarat Cotton Producers' Association.

Traders said 90 per cent of Gujarat's area under cotton was growing transgenic varieties, while 65 per cent of the area in Maharashtra and 40 per cent in Punjab were under Bt cotton.

In 2002, India allowed farmers to plant cotton containing a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium species that causes lethal paralysis in the digestive tract of bollworm.

Industry officials also said many farmers in Gujarat have switched to cotton from groundnut cultivation as they expect cotton to fetch attractive prices.

"Groundnut yield is expected to plunge 43 per cent at 1.6 million tonnes this winter from 2.8 million tonnes a year ago," said Saurashtra Oil Mill Association President Ukabhai Patel.

"The growth in the cotton crop has posed a serious threat to edible oil trade," he said.
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Agriculture chief urges farmers to use biotech

- BUSINESSWORLD, September 28, 2006

Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban wants stakeholders in the farm sector to take advantage of the economic opportunities offered by modern biotechnology by cultivating crops whose natural ingredients are in demand in the world market.

An official statement said Mr. Panganiban yesterday told participants in a forum in Butuan City, themed "Economic opportunities in biotechnology in the Caraga Region" and held at the Northern Mindanao Institute of Science and Technology, that the Philippines is a potentially rich source of raw materials through the application of modern biotechnology in agriculture. Applying modern biotechnology in agriculture is the only way to increase production to ensure food security in a country like the Philippines, the Agriculture chief said.

He admitted that the use of biotechnology has become crucial since land devoted to food production has been reduced, even as the population continues to grow at a rate of about 2.8% per annum.

The forum, which was attended by farmers, people's organizations, municipal agriculture officers in Agusan del Sur, and representatives from the private sector, forms part of a series of seminar-workshops initiated by the Department of Agriculture's Biotech Program Implementation Unit headed by director Alicia Ilaga and the Biotechnology for Life Media Resource and Advocacy Center.Mr. Panganiban said even the coup in Thailand has opened a window of opportunity for Filipino farmers to increase their share in the supply of papain to Belgium, a market penetrated by the Filipino-owned biotech company, Secura International and its local partners, Secura Plant Genetics Corp. and Servac Philippines Corp., owned and managed by engineer Danilo Manayaga.

According to DA chief, Belgium needs a fresh supply of papain which will require farmers to devote 50,000 to 60,000 hectares of land to papaya.
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http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003278965_kiner28.html

E. coli haunts victims long after outbreak

- Seattle Times, By Mary Engel, Sept 24, 2006

When she was 10, Brianne Kiner became the public face of one of the country's worst outbreaks of food poisoning.

Television cameras zoomed in as she left Seattle's Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center in June 1993, six months after eating an undercooked Jack in the Box hamburger contaminated by E. coli. It was the same virulent strain that recently has been linked to California-grown spinach.

Doctors called her survival a miracle. What most people outside her family didn't know then — and may not realize now — was that her recovery was just beginning.

"She had to learn to walk again. Think again. Learn her colors," said her mother, Suzanne Kiner. "She had such total body atrophy that she could not chew."

Brianne suffered from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the most dreaded consequence of E. coli O157:H7 infection and the most common cause of kidney failure in children younger than 18. Of the 183 people sickened so far in the current spinach-related outbreak, 27 have been diagnosed with HUS. One person has died. Two other deaths are under investigation.

Not everyone who ingests this strain of E. coli falls ill, and not everyone who becomes ill develops the bloody diarrhea described by doctors and patients as worse than kidney stones, more painful than childbirth. But about 10 percent of those who do come down with HUS.

The death rate from HUS is 3 percent to 5 percent, doctors say. Ten percent of patients survive but have long-term kidney damage and may eventually require dialysis or a transplant. The vast majority recover complete kidney function, but experts say even they should be tested regularly for abnormalities that could cause high blood pressure or diabetes.

Brianne's case was so severe that just about everyone expected her to die. She was the last to leave the hospital among those stricken in the Jack in the Box outbreak that sickened hundreds and killed four.

During the months she was laid up, the toxin produced by the bacteria attacked her brain, kidneys and liver, putting her in a coma for 40 days. She suffered strokes and seizures. Her infected pancreas lost the ability to produce insulin, and she developed diabetes. Doctors removed part of her inflamed intestine.

Brianne doesn't remember being rushed to the hospital. She does recall awakening in the intensive-care unit and spending months in bed. She remembers all too well the rounds of doctor appointments after her release and the years of physical, occupational and speech therapy that extended into high school. She was left with damaged lungs and learning disabilities.

"I had to relearn how to read," she said. "And this is embarrassing, but I had to be potty-trained all over again."

The $15.6 million settlement the Kiners won in 1995 from Jack in the Box provides for Brianne's support. She now lives on her own and takes community college classes part time — routine milestones for a 23-year-old, but they represent hard-won autonomy for someone stricken as severely as she was. Every three months, she visits her endocrinologist to check her diabetes, but she pronounces her health — and life — "good."

"I have a house and I'm loving it," she said.

Her mother takes pride in Brianne's progress, calling her "blessed."

But letting go leaves Suzanne Kiner with time she hasn't had in years. Time to watch the spinach outbreak unfold and to think, "Oh, no. Not again."

E. coli is commonly found in cow manure and passed to people though contaminated food. Most strains are ubiquitous and relatively harmless.

But somewhere along the way, E. coli O157:H7 evolved the ability to produce lethal toxins that can cross the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream.

The toxins flock to receptors in the kidneys, where they kill small blood vessels and clog waste filters. They can also harm the pancreas, liver and heart. Death is often a result of toxins affecting the brain and causing strokes or swelling.

Virtually nothing can be done to fight HUS once it is under way. Treatment consists of supporting the patient — from something as simple as hydration, all the way to dialysis — while the body fights off the toxins.

Said Dr. Phillip Tarr, an expert on HUS and a professor of pediatric gastroenterology at Washington University in St. Louis: "It is an absolute horrible experience to go through during the acute stage. But many people, if not most, get through it and do fine in the future."

Amber Brister of Minneapolis is 12. She is not quite a year from the first anniversary of the illness brought on by the 2005 Dole lettuce outbreak, one of nine E. coli outbreaks traced to lettuce or spinach grown in California's Salinas Valley since 1995.

Amber entered the hospital Sept. 28 and was discharged on Halloween. Her kidneys failed, and she spent 18 of those 34 days hooked up to a dialysis machine. Her pancreas became infected. She couldn't eat for three weeks.

"No one knows what it's like until it happens to you, until you're the one sitting in the hospital, watching your child fight for her life," said her mother, Lori Olson. "What people don't understand about this is they think that you just get sick, and you get better, and that's it."

The single mom lost her job to stay with her daughter in the hospital. Olson agonized over leaving a second daughter, then 15, home alone every night for a month. She, too, had been sickened in the outbreak, but not as severely.

Now, almost a year later, there are the questions, the ones Olson has to ask and the ones she has to fret about.

"Every day you have to ask questions that, as a preteen, she's not very comfortable with, and she'd like to forget the whole thing," Olson said about Amber. "Every little thing you have to monitor. When she has a cold, you just worry and worry and worry."

Amber herself doesn't want to talk about her illness. She doesn't want the attention, her mother said. She just wants to live a normal life.

Brianne Kiner understands — and sympathizes with anyone suffering through the latest outbreak linked to California spinach.

"It's going to get better," she said. "It's tough right now, but it's going to get better."
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Businessman a true believer in irradiation

- Knight-Ridder Tribune, 28.sep.06 (Via Agnet)

Fort Worth businessman David Corbin, the chief executive of Sadex Corp., a company that provides food-irradiation services, was cited as saying he believes that his technology can help eliminate food-borne illnesses like the recent deadly E. coli outbreak. So he used the radiation treatment on bacteria-laden spinach, and then ate a bowlful of the stuff.

Sadex, which is based in Fort Worth and has an irradiation plant in Iowa, is pushing federal regulators to allow its treatment on bagged produce and other ready-to-eat foods.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration permits irradiation of raw meat, poultry, fresh produce and spices. But it's prohibited for hot dogs, deli meats, packaged salads and other processed foods.

"It could've helped greatly reduce the spinach crisis, not only for the American consumer, but for American farmers," Corbin said.

Irradiation, which exposes food to energy beams to destroy bacteria and boost the food's shelf life, doesn't make the food radioactive. Critics contend that it poses health risks and makes food less nutritious.

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