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In a town this size, there's no place to hide
Everywhere you go, you meet someone you know...
In a smokey bar, in the backseat of your car
In your own little house, someone's sure to find you out
What you do and what you think
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(Kieran Kane)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Organic produce kills 13

E. coli bacteria

The death toll from an E. coli bacteria outbreak in Germany has risen to at least 13, per this morning's New York Times.
The health authorities in Europe stepped up efforts on Monday to halt a deadly outbreak of a virulent form of E. coli bacteria in cucumbers as a dispute broke out between Spain and Germany over the source of the illness.
The federal and state authorities in Germany — where effects are by far most severe — said the death toll climbed to 13 by Monday, from 10 on Sunday, in one of the largest outbreaks its kind reported worldwide.
Not mentioned in the Times article is that the source of the deadly infection has been identified as organic produce from Spain.  If we read all the way through this CNN report, in the tenth paragraph we learn:
The European Food Safety Alert Network said EHEC, or enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, a strain of E. coli that causes hemorrhage in the intestines, was found in organic cucumbers originating from Spain, packaged in Germany, and distributed to countries including Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg and Spain.
These seems to be a pattern of E. coli outbreaks originating with expensive, trendy "organic" produce.  If consumers chose to pay the price and take the risk with organics, we wish them the best of luck.  However, whether you like it or not, the FDA is using your tax dollars to subsidze the conversion of US agriculture to "organic practices."  For instance, we still have time to apply this $3,750,000 grant.
The overall goal of the Organic Transitions Program (ORG) is to support the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices. In FY 2011, ORG will focus on environmental services provided by organic farming systems that support soil conservation and contribute to climate change mitigation. Practices and systems to be addressed include those associated with organic crops, organic animal production (including dairy), and organic systems integrating plant and animal production.
Bold added.  Left to be understood is why taxpayers are being forced to subsidize the admittedly uncompetitive, risky, boutique organic industry.  Perhaps our esteemed readers can provide insight? 

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