There is an excellent article on the sources and on farm management of E.
Coli 0157 and other nasty pathogens in the latest Feedstuffs March 13,
2000; pages 18-23). Superb and thorough job, with over 50 references.
Discusses in detail the epistemology of outbreaks (almost all start from
beef or diary farms); why and where they seem to occur; management
practices that make things worse/better.
People working on the organic rule should very carefully and thoroughly
assure that manure handling, pasture, and compost provisions are fully in
accord with recent science re E.Coli 0157 fate in the environment. This is
a very hardy pathogen. I learned of much very recent science in the
Feedtsuffs article that people should be aware of when assessing the rule.
One obvious example of where a careful look is essential -- are the
temperatures reached in standard compost piles consistent with NRCS rule #
XVXTXWZ hot enough to reliably kill it?
Many of the positive things that distinguish sustainable/organic beef and
(smaller scale) dairy operations from conventional operations are the
things which limit an animal's likelihood of becoming infected. So in
terms of sources of the problem, there appears much good management and
humane husbandry can do. But organic fruit and vegetable growers dependent
on manure from conventional farms for compost had better be on guard. If
there is an affordable quick test for E.Coli 0157 that could be used in
finished compost, the organic industry should consider adding it to the
list of standard operating procedures. If one does not now exist, someone
should work on it, because this problem is not going to go away and all
sectors of agriculture have to become more diligent and sophisticated in
Charles Benbrook CU FQPA site www.ecologic-ipm.com
Benbrook Consulting Services Ag BioTech InfoNet www.biotech-info.net
5085 Upper Pack River Road IPM site www.pmac.net
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
208-263-5236 (Voice) 208-263-7342 (Fax)
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