Musings about our farm, organic farming, regional foods and markets.

Plus, what's in the news about foods, systems and regulations around the world.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Big E.Coli Smear Campaign

Escherichia coli (E. Coli) bacteria are found in the intestines of cattle, poultry and other animals. If people become infected with these bacteria and those from raw sewage, the infection can result in serious illness, as is the case that has recently sickened many and caused the death of 22 people to date in northern Germany.

German authorities were quick on the draw, passing judgement by falsely blaming Spanish cucumbers and leading to a devastating loss of sales for innocent Spanish farmers. Some were probably forced to go out of business. Then the net was spread to blame not just cucumbers, but also tomatoes and lettuce, affecting sales for farmers across Europe and beyond, as panicked customers were advised not to consume these salad vegetables. Now, the spotlight has turned onto local German-grown beansprouts. Still they blame the vegetables and, by extension, many more innocent farmers.

To me, this smacks of a trigger-happy blame game waged against farmers, hatched up by big corporations and governments (together with the science experts they have in their pockets), and broadcast by their mainstream media, including the Associated Press, BBC.  All as a diversionary tactic for seeding maximum panic and doubt in a concerned public. As noted above, E. coli originates from contamination by animal and poultry (even human) waste and fecal matter, just as the tainted spinach in California did. The source of the E. coli found in spinach that killed three people and sickened more than 200 in 2007 was found to be a small cattle ranch. Investigators found E. coli in river water, cattle feces, and wild pig feces on the ranch  adjacent to fields of spinach. E.coli may pass through vegetables, but it is usually antibiotics fed to animals, raw sewage, runoff, unsanitary washing practices, contaminated water that are the true cause of such outbreaks.

Scientists say the new E.coli strain is an aggressive hybrid form toxic to humans and not previously linked to food poisoning. How can such a toxic new strain suddenly appear in the food system, particularly at one small farm in northern Germany that is currently taking the rap? The answers will unfold as forensic evidence comes to the fore in the coming days. They won’t be pretty.

For more, read Mike Adams’ in-depth insights at