>The Demeter Association, which certifies Biodynamic growers, has
>banned the use of bonemeal and bloodmeal as plant fertilizers. The
>organization says "it is certainly likely" that bone and blood meal
>contaminated by Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow
>disease, is on the market in the US. "Rendered remains of BSE animals
>are sill infective," the organization says. "Applying bonemeal to
>the soil will inoculate the soil with the BSE agent if it was present
>in the raw material. It will stay in the soil forever. Livestock
>grazing in the area in the future will be exposed to the BSE agent.
>Farmers applying the bone and blood meal will be exposed also."
>This news brief has sent our local organic growers, myself included,
>into a state of serious concern. I need to find someone through the
>University or knowledgeable source to follow up on this and find out
>if this is real or just a freak-out of someone with a big imagination.
> We sell both bone meal & blood meal and promote this to be used as an
>organic soil amendment. I need some facts! Would you know of anyone
>to forward this message to that might be able to find some
>scientifically based facts behind this. My biological background
>tells me that the norm is that disease does not live without a living
>organism to host it.
I watched the Nova special on this; the researcher buried prion materials in
his garden for two years and they were still infective afterwards. I'm sure
there is other and further information that goes into much more detail on
this emerging science story...
An organic farmer in the Montreal area told me he wouldn't use sheep manure
on his land because of this problem; he's also a chemistry professor, so not
exactly someone on the fringe of modern information.
As far as disease and hosts are concerned, the successful disease organism
paradigm may not apply at all to prions; heavy metals can cause illness,
with a fine disregard for biological rules; allergens can also cause
problems without there being any disease-host feedback loop at all. (That
we're aware of...) The problem seems to be that prion illness is crossing
over the species barrier in a way it hasn't seemed to do before. This could
be a random development in evolution or it could be the result of
confinement, concentration and coerced cannabalism among agricultural
The good news is that there are other sources of N and P that can be used;
alfalfa meal, rock phosphate, and so forth. Blood and bone meal have always
been bloody expensive; now it seems they may be bloody dangerous as well as
Maybe the next slogan in organic agriculture will be, "Don't Panic! Grow
After all, "all flesh is grass", and there is a skyfull of nitrogen over all
of us, just waiting for some legume-Rhizobium dyad to break it out of double
bondage...(or other N-fixing organism or mutuality...)
As Helen Nearing used to say, "Why not?"
Frank--noting that mixing up a bunch of dead animal remains is akin to
finding a hundred pest insects and whizzing them in the blender, then
spraying the result on the garden as a pesticide; using epidemiology as a
sword rather than a shield...or as I titled a piece for the compost list
several months ago, "Composting and fertilizing from low on the food-chain
could be prudent"...:-)
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