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Monday, June 6, 2011

COW MANURE AS ORGANIC FERTILIZER -- E. coli CONTAMINATION

COW MANURE AS ORGANIC FERTILIZER –E. coli CONTAMINATION

I have told this story before. But, in light of the recent outbreaks of deadly E. Coli infections in Germany, my story demands repetition.

A number of years ago, about the time when there were outbreaks of E. Coli (O157:H7) infections associated with Jack-in-the-Box restaurants in Seattle (1993), I was travelling around the country giving lectures on Stress, Nutrition, and Holistic Health. I had just finished a lecture in Seattle, WA and had to travel across the Cascade Mountains on my way to Yacima, WA for my next lecture. It rains considerably in Seattle with the highest rainfall accumulation close to the Pacific and decreasing as one travels east. As one travels down the east side of the Cascade Range, the rainfall is considerably reduced until one arrives in the high desert area of Washington State where it is quite dry.

As one travels down the eastside of the mountain range there on the right of the main highway there is the very large facility of the Washington Beef Company. To the right of the main facility there is a tremendous feeder lot where cows are herded and grain fed to finish the process of fattening them up before slaughter. Since I travelled around the country once per year for about six years, I made the following observation on at least three occasions. Because I started my late winter tour in January in the eastern southern states, I continued my lecture tour along the middle southern states, then towards California, up the Western coast to Seattle, crossing the upper western states of Washington, Montana. N. Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio then returning home to Frederick, MD at about May. The reason of going in such detail is to explain why I was in Washington State about March, a time of considerable rainfall.

I observed on at least three occasions the feeder lots completely muddy to the point that the cows in most of the lot were knee deep in mud eating at the food troughs. Now I know that the cows may be washed when they enter the slaughterhouse. Can we really believe the all that mud can be washed off entirely? I cannot believe that the washing can be that complete. This together with the fact that the Washington Beef Company is the most likely source of beef feeding the Seattle area might explain why outbreaks occurred in Seattle.

One year at the end of my tour after arriving home, I decided to call the USDA in Washington, DC. I finally spoke with a man who said he was in charge of such matters. I described my observations. His response was that they were “on top of the situation.” Well if he was indeed “on top of the situation,” why was I able to make similar observations the following year? Obviously, I got the typical beaurocratic response that was intended to keep my mouth shut. To me the USDA were not interested, did not care, or incompetent. I have yet to meet an individual who works for government admit that he does not know or that he ever made a mistake. If you find one tell me and I will award him a medal.

Fast forward to about 5 years ago when E. coli contamination of vegetables in the West were discovered to be due to cow fecal contamination from water run off from fields where cows were grazing in to areas where vegetables were being grown.

Fast forward to our current problem of vegetable contamination in Germany. Today, I heard that the contamination was traced to contaminated bean sprouts. On TV they showed a greenhouse but I had no way of knowing that the sprouts were actually grown in the greenhouses shown on TV.

I was thinking whether these sprouts were grown organically. In organic farming cow manure is allowed. I am bringing up the question whether the cow manure or cow manure compost used in organic farming is checked for the presence on the toxin-producing E. coli, and whether these bacteria are destroyed in the composting process. I will continue my research to get more answers.

We know that the sources thus far of the toxin-producing E. coli have been cows. It would be prudent to determine the association of cows with each outbreak.

At this point before we fully know how widespread is the use of cow manure in the growing of organic vegetables, it would be prudent to be cautious. When buying organic vegetables all one sees on the grocery shelf is that the organic vegetables are certified, what ever that means!


nicola michael Tauraso, M.D.
Ecuador
5 June 201
email: drtauraso@drtauraso.com
site: www.drtauraso.com

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