info4action archive


GE - 3 in 1 on organic food and E.coli

Dear GEN,

below are two messages on organic foods and E.coli - one press release from
ESEF which was sent to me by Norvartis and an article I found in the web on
flawed assumptions behind this story (I will send them again). After I read
below copied message in your news from Aug. 26, I would recommend that you
include the web article in your next postings. We should not get hooked on
these well coordinated campaigns to mislead the public!

And I will further collect German news on GE resistance for you!



2) Top Scientists, Government Officials Say Organic ...  WASHINGTON, Aug. 25
/U.S. Newswire/ --
An investigation by the  nationally syndicated
>  television newsmagazine program American  Investigator revealed in
> June
>  1998 that, according to the Centers for  Disease Control's (CDC) own
>  numbers, organic and natural food products  represent a higher rate
> of food
> borne illness, commonly referred to as  food poisoning.  Correspondent
> Marc
>  Morano explains that "by creating  food free of synthetic chemicals
> and
>  preservatives, organic and natural  foods have removed barriers
> between
>  humans and harmful disease-causing  bacteria."
>  Virlie Walker, an FDA official, is now on record warning
> that, "Most especially at risk are your organic products because
> they could be  fertilized with manure."  Also on record is chief
> of the CDC's  Foodborne illness division Robert V. Tauxe,
> addressing pathogens that  thrive in manure, "Organic means a
> food was grown in animal manure."
>  Dr. Lester Crawford of the Georgetown Center for Food and
> Nutrition  Policy told American Investigator, "Organic foods as
> they're raised  with manure as fertilizers and sometimes without
> chlorinated water,  provide a great opportunity for bacteria to
> grow."
>    "Just on the basis of the label, I would probably tend to shy
> away from  the organic," said Dr. Dean Cliver, a food scientist
> from University of  Southern California-Davis.
>    Even though modern chemical farming occasionally uses manure,
> they also  use salt, preservatives and chemical washes, which
> kill harmful  bacteria.  Organic proponents told American
> Investigator that manure is  safe from bacteria if it's properly
> composted, however the newsmagazine  found no standard or
> scientific gauge to determine what is "properly"  composted
> manure.  Dr. Cliver said, "We can tell you how a hamburger is
> very well done but we can't tell you when manure is very well
> done."
>    Plus: Find out why scientists say Greenpeace's campaign to
> halt  genetically engineered foods is misguided and why
> Greenpeace says Cuba  is a model country for the world to
> emulate.  And find out why experts  say organic farming is not
> earth friendly.
>    For information, contact Marc Morano at 202-543-4787.
>    ------ Editors: Some computer systems do not recognize the
> "at" sign.  It is an important component of e-mail addresses and
> should be used in  place of the symbol (At) in the contact
> information above.
> Copyright 1999

Dear GEN
some GE industry people tried to promote a press release of ESEF - notorious
pro-industry "science company" in the climate debate - concerning the E. coli
risks of organic food. Trying to enter the GE debate. I received this ESEF
press release from Novartis! I decided not to circulate it but to wait if it
will be taken up by the media. Obviously this did not happened, I only read
litte comment on the store in one of your mails. Maybe it would be wise to
circulate the following message in your lists. Just to give people the right



   +++ E. coli risks of organic food - pure propaganda +++

TITLE:  CDC has never compared E. coli risks of organic,
        traditional food
SOURCE: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina
        State University, USA
        by Nancy Creamer, Extension Specialist
DATE:   February 1999

CDC has never compared E. coli risks of organic, traditional food

Contrary to a well-circulated article written by Dennis T. Avery,
the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has
never conducted a study that compares the risk of contracting
E.coli bacteria in both conventional and organically grown food.
Avery is the Director of Global Food Issues at the Hudson
Institute, which is "a research organization dedicated to
thinking about the future from a contrarian point of view,"
according to its literature.

Avery published an article entitled "The Hidden Dangers in
Organic Food" in the Fall, 1998, issue of American Outlook, a
quarterly publication published by the Hudson Institute. Avery's
article began, "According to recent data compiled by the U.S.
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 E. coli
bacteria (0157:H7)."

A statement from Dr. Mitchell Cohen of the CDC last month states
that: "Since 1982, most of the outbreaks of Escherichia coli
0157:H7 have been associated with foods of bovine origin (e.g. -
ground beef). In recent years, a wider spectrum of foods,
including produce, have been recognized as causes of outbreaks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not
conducted any study that compares or quantitates the specific
risk for infection with Escherichia coli 0157:H7 and eating
either conventionally grown or organic/natural foods. CDC
recommends that growers practice safe and hygienic methods for
producing food products, and that consumers, likewise, practice
food safety within their homes (e.g., thoroughly washing fruits
and vegetables). These recommendations apply to both
conventionally grown and organic foods."

Sharon Hoskins of the CDC told Alternative Agriculture News that
the CDC did not have any such research currently in the works,
nor was it planning to conduct any in the future because such
research was "not warranted." "We are not planning any research
on organic and natural foods," she said. She also said, "We have
tried to contact the magazine and have never been able to speak
with anyone at American Outlook, including the editor. There has
been no response."

Avery's article has been excerpted in several other publications,
including The Wall Street Journal, whose excerpt included these
sentences from the American Outlook article: "Consumers of
organic foods are also more likely to be attacked by a relatively
new, more virulent strain of the infamous salmonella bacteria.
Salmonella was America's biggest food borne death risk until the
new E. coli 0157 came along. Organic food is more dangerous than
conventionally grown produce because organic farmers use manure
as the major source of fertilizer for their food crops. Animal
manure is the biggest reservoir of these nasty bacteria that are
afflicting and killing so many people. Organic farmers compound
the contamination problem through their reluctance to use
antimicrobial preservatives, chemical washes, pasteurization, or
even chlorinated water to rid their products of dangerous

No documented research sources were given to support these
assertions. The Organic Trade Association has also disputed
Avery's article, reporting that, "According to Robert Tauxe,
M.D., chief of the food borne and diarrheal diseases branch of
the CDC, there is no such data on organic food production in
existence at their centers....Let the record show that manure use
is a common agricultural practice for conventional and organic
food production....Any organic grower that uses the certified
organic label must abide by safe food production standards, and,
as with all food producers, must be in compliance with their
local and state health standards."

-| Hartmut Meyer
-| Co-ordinator
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-| Reinhaeuser Landstr. 51
-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| Germany
-| phone: #49-551-7700027
-| fax  : #49-551-7701672
-| email: