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Date:

May 31, 2000

Subject:

E-coli in organic produce

 

Herald Express (UK)

May 30, 2000
Pg.6

By DAVE MANLEY

A leading professor of plant biochemistry stated: 'Organic farming actually
increases the risk of food poisoning.

While conventional farmers use quite a variety of techniques to fertilise
their crops, organic farmers use animal manure (faeces) almost
exclusively.

It doesn't take a genius, to work out that this 'waste matter' - discharged
from the bowels', is potentially deadly. So, for obvious safety reasons the
manure has to be heated on a compost heap to kill off harmful bacteria.

But, if it is not composted for long enough, there is an increased chance
diseases like E-coli will spread.

Profit seeking could so easily drive many organic farmers to cut corners in
the treatment of manure.

And, ironically, while 'organic farms' are monitored by the Soil
Association
there are no regulations whatsoever to govern the way manure is treated.

Conventional farms, by stark contrast, are given Government recommendations
on the treatment of manure and often use minerals or employ crop rotation,
instead of animal wastes, to improve yields.

A US study, compared organically grown lettuces and brussel sprouts to
vegetables produced conventionally. Alarmingly, researchers found that
non-organic lettuce had 1,000 E-coli cells per gramme, but the organic
alternative had 100,000. There was a similar 100-fold increase between
ordinary and organic sprouts.

Of course the organic farmers will argue that livestock, on their farms,
contain healthier, more 'benign' bugs because of high standards of animal
welfare and the far more restricted use of antibiotics.

Personally, and nothing whatsoever to do with 'statements in the media', I
would never ever touch organic produce with a six-foot bargepole.

But purely on the back of media hype concerning the BSE crises and grave
concerns over the safety of genetically modified food, organic sales in
Britain have risen from less than GBP 110 million in 1993 to about GBP 400
last year and are expected to break the GBP 1 billion barrier this year.

Indeed, only last week Asda announced it was to double its range of organic
foods after a 60 per cent rise in sales.