The European E. Coli Outbreak: The Real Story

June 14, 2011
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E coliHint: It’s not about organic food.

When people began to die from E. coli poisoning in Europe, the first thing we heard was that organic cucumbers were to blame, or if not, that organic tomatoes or lettuce were. There wasn’t a shred of evidence for this, but the Internet began to fill up with people swearing off organic food!

Then the accusation shifted: it was German organic sprouts that were the culprit. Tests of the sprouts on the farm were negative. Well, so-called forensic evidence—in particular, the location of the infections—pointed toward the sprouts, so in the end they got the blame.

It could indeed be the sprouts. They are grown in a wet, warm environment, which would be conducive to bacterial overgrowth. But let’s be clear: no organic fertilizer (manure) was used, so that was not the source of contamination.

Since there was no manure, how could the sprouts have become infected? Did the workers not wash their hands? This isn’t likely to be it. Why? Because this was a new, mutant form of E. coli. Not only new and mutant—it was also resistant to antibiotics. A new, mutant, and resistant killer strain isn’t likely to come just from dirty hands.

Then where from? Most likely the seeds. And where would seeds pick up a new, mutant, and antibiotic-resistant strain? It could be from farms where antibiotics are overused—not an organic farm. Readers may recall last year’s Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D–NY), the only microbiologist in Congress, which was supported by organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Center for Food Safety. The bill, HR 965, has been reintroduced in the current session of Congress and now has 59 co-sponsors. It would ban the nontherapeutic use of antimicrobials in animals, and would ban the use of even therapeutic antimicrobials unless it can be demonstrated that there is “a reasonable certainty of no harm to human health” due to the development of antibiotic drug resistance. We have a new Action Alert on this new bill.

The outbreak could also be related to the use of E. coli in creating new GMO strains: the E. coli bacterium is used by scientists to carry new genes into the organism. In the process, a new form of E. coli could have been created. If this happened (and of course, no one will ever know), it would be more than ironic to blame it on organic agriculture, which struggles to stay free from GMO contamination.

There is neither evidence nor reason to believe that organic agriculture produces a greater threat of E. coli contamination than conventional agriculture. This is especially true because contamination is associated with huge, industrial farms, and those farms are not generally organic.

If the first thing we heard about this outbreak was that it was an organic food problem, the second thing we heard was that it was time to start nuking our fresh produce. The FDA gave its blessing to irradiate raw spinach and lettuce three years ago, claiming that it was safe and had no effect on nutrients. This was in addition to prior approval by the FDA or USDA to nuke almonds, spices, imported produce and fruit, and especially meat—not surprisingly, much of the nuked meat ends up in children’s school lunch program. The Grocery Manufacturers Association wants more items approved for nuking, but also finds consumers reluctant to accept nuked products.

The consumer reaction is, of course, just common sense. The human race didn’t make it this far by eating irradiated food. To assume such food is safe and nutritious is just folly, no matter how convenient it might be for a beleaguered bureaucrat looking for some quick fix. There is a fix, but it isn’t in nuking. It lies in a totally different direction.

The massive Food Safety Act just passed by Congress requires the FDA to come up with new regulations to prevent E. coli and similar outbreaks. This is mostly a charade because no government agency has the slightest idea what to do about it other than nuke our food. As we at ANH-USA have noted before, the Food Safety Bill might have been written by the giant food industry, because it doesn’t do anything about industrial farming methods, the heart of the problem, and instead threatens the very existence of small farmers, including small organic farmers.

Is there a way to make food safer? Yes. Make CAFOs clean up their act and stop destroying small, independent agriculture. And support Rep. Slaughter’s bill to ban the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in animals!

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37 Responses to “The European E. Coli Outbreak: The Real Story”

  1. Tom says:

    A person essentially lend a hand to make critically articles I might state. This is the very first time I frequented your web page and so far? I surprised with the research you made to make this particular post amazing. Great job!

       0 likes

  2. BALLY says:

    Thanks for all the INFO …people really need to know these things!!!
    We really need to set up FARMS,I mean REAL ORGANIC FARMS with Farm Animals that produce Natural PEN MANURE that can Replenish the Soil for maximum yield,however the people willing to go that route often lack the Funds or Skills to support their endeavors…That is where Our HUMANITARIAN SPIRIT MUST STAND OUT by COLLABORATIONS or just say Working Together for the Benefit Of the WHOLE, or for ALL….Remember that a little goes a long way..Keep Spreading Truth ..Keep doing good.. Courtesy is contageous, I am doing my part because I know we gonna make
    a difference..Let’s ALL work Together for what’s worth Living For, else we all die without it.
    NOW I KNOW THAT IT IS LATE, BUT NOT TOO LATE, BE POSITIVE :GOOD OVER evil…BE STRONG! ALL RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE, ALL CONSCIOUS PEOPLE, ALL EARTH LOVING PEOPLE.’WE MUST WIN’

       0 likes

  3. It’s all coming so thick and fast, the stranglehold of big business over the masses. We have had the EU herbal directive stopping many of the products that I have used in my practice for 21 years to great effect. People got well taking them. No side effects and no deaths. Now the spread of GM foods with mutant and even synthetic bacteria in their DNA heralding more regulations to end organic food producers. Lies followed by more lies and the media, owned by big business interest, acts as though they are reporting the truth. Big brother isn’t just out to get us. They have got us precisely where they want us. Frankly I am scared. Despite all the internet petitions and outrage expressed by thinking people on zillions of websites, nothing seems to be able to stop this incredible roller coaster towards total self destruction of the human race. What can we do as individuals to stop these mad people who run our lives under the guise of democracy and freedom? There is no freedom and democracy is an illusion. I feel powerless and that is no my usual state of mind.

       0 likes

  4. Katherine says:

    I just posted most of this letter on popvox.com and thus automatically notified my representative of my view on this topic. I urge others to do the same.

       0 likes

  5. eileen miller says:

    When I heard this was a mutant strain of e-coli, I immediately thought of Monsanto and their mutant seeds. There is a concerted effort to weaken organic food standards by big ag and Monsanto. Also, some farmers actually believe that without Monsanto we wouldn’t be able to feed the world’s population. Monsanto has the money to keep these ‘lies’ out there. We need to keep insisting on labelling as a first step and keep informing the public of what’s happening to our food supply.

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  6. rodney says:

    Everything in our opaque food chain is pointing strongly to growing your own food. Ditch your weed free lawns and plant the food you eat. You are not only assured of safe food but it is the freshest you will ever eat. If you haven’t any land find a community garden short of that find a organic farmer or
    your nearest csa. If you trust that the usda or fda is looking out for your best interest follow the money, follow the science.

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  7. The Pharmaceutical Industry is much too powerful and causing disastrous results! Why the intense effort to reduce the population world-wide by any methods possible, is not a mystery when one realizes the “Global” mindset. Mother Nature, unfortunately has some dire outcomes, man’s interference is not needed!

       0 likes

  8. patricia campbell says:

    Thank you for communicating on this super imiportant issue. We people must take the initiative to keep our food safe because industry does not have our best interests in mind. And industry collaborates with government on this issue>

       0 likes

  9. Maralyn McMinn says:

    I very much appreciate your information and background research that you provide to your
    readers. We need more organizations to help consumers know the truth behind our very much
    corrupt food, health and government organizations that are all about money and supporting non
    organic ways. We need our Government to not be corrupt like the big food Industries
    trying to buy out our very few organic farmers that are left.

    It is very frustrating to read and hear how more and more of our food supply is tainted with
    chemicals that eventually cause humans cancer. I could go on and on but feel it does not
    get any better, it just gets worse.

    Maralyn McMinn

       0 likes

  10. Joe says:

    There are internet articles stating this e-coli was genetically engineered with Bubonic Plague DNA. Let’s keep an eye on this developing story.

       0 likes

  11. Reed says:

    Senator Richard Burr of NC, introduced the food safety bill in the Senate. I believe Monsanto donated 500,000 to his campaign fund for his treachery. Kay Hagen, the other NC Senator received over 100,000 for her support. No doubt the monolithic Ag industry engineered this legislation.

       0 likes

  12. janeto says:

    In my opinion, it would appear we’re going down another diversionary road. Could there be a connection between the anti-biotic resistant markers placed in genetically modified pseudo-foods and the anti-biotic resistance we are seeing across the world? Could it be that it is not over-consumption of anti-biotics from kids with ear infections but a combination of that fed to animals and the makeup of genetically modified pseudo-foods, the excretions and tilling into the soil that have created what is beginning to be a nightmare? Now we have an e-coli that is immune to 8 groups of anti-biotics, why? I read an article last week that discussed that this could only happen if it was done in a lab. Well, maybe that is so but not what the author intended. These pseudo-crops are tilled back into the soil. There is proof of lateral transfer of DNA from these plants. Why wouldn’t the anti-biotic resistant markers threaten our health in just this way? That is, develop strains of bacteria that are now resistant to all known anti-biotics. It’s our own fault that we let these companies run amok with our foods, much less the complete environment of earth and humans, animals and the seas. We must stop it, if it’s not too late.

    This is the original story that I mentioned above, I’m not saying that it’s true or untrue, it is yet to be proven.

    Forensic evidence emerges that European e.coli superbug was bio-engineered to produce human fatalities
    By Mike Adams http://www.opednews.com/articles/Forensic-evidence-emerges-by-Mike-Adams-110606-498.html

    And a couple of others that would provide additional information:

    European Food Safety Authority: Position of EFSA on Antibiotic Resistance Markers
    http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/safety/human_health/126.position_efsa_antibiotic_resistance_markers.html In the EU, GM plants with certain antibiotic resistance markers have been given only limited authorisation for release into the environment.
    The Lancet: Antibiotic resistance markers in genetically modified plants: a risk to human health?
    Philippe B Gay a, Professor Stephen H Gillespie
    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(05)70241-3/abstract

    Horizontal Gene Transfer from GMOs Does Happen
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/horizontalGeneTransfer.php Recent evidence confirms that transgenic DNA does jump species to bacteria and even plant and animals, as some of us had predicted Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins

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  13. Anna says:

    I do believe in your cause and I read all your mails with great interest. When you however, state that the cucumbers blamed for the E.hec outbrake were “organic” I find it misleading. The cucumbers were grown in ordinary hothouses in Holland and Spain and not on bio-dinamic or “organic” farms.

    Your point about the seeds however, I do share. Very worrying!

       0 likes

  14. Charles S. Carter Jr. says:

    Over the past ten years all over the world hundreds of microbiologist have been murdered and you can research that on the Internet!

       0 likes

  15. Atami7 says:

    This exact thing happened in Spring 1993, Coos Bay, OR. In spite of the fact that only our two children got e-coli and not the parents, and the only thing they ate that we did not was the kiwi, the CDC blamed the outbreak on mayonnaise. Our own butcher explained how getting it from mayonnaise was impossible. I really believe to this day that unclean practices in the kitchen and the cutting of kiwi with a knife or cutting board that had been contaminated with raw beef was the true reason for my children’s outbreak. We do not know why my children did not die from it, but they were gravely ill. There is nothing in food practices that justifies even a few people having to suffer from this terrible thing. We must keep our food clean, and properly processed, and not rely on radiation or chemical means to health. If it must be that we outlaw huge mega-farms and mega-butchers, so be it. What ever it takes. If I could I would post a photograph of my sweet baby girl at Easter, the first days that she actually felt good enough to do anything after her terrible illness. She was 18 months old.

       0 likes

  16. Thanks so much for this illuminating article! We are 100% organic supporters!

       0 likes

  17. GLORIA FASANO says:

    The real story…is sound…in my opinion…it is logically informative and exposes scientifically the possible ways e.coli new strain….could not come via organic farmers since it is noy using manure if not manure what did they us?

       0 likes

  18. GLORIA FASANO says:

    I guess there is not enough proof – but I believe that terrorist are contaminating our food….it is not that hard to create these food scares….that is terrorism. Thank you for logically going through this stuff. I do appreciate….gloria

       0 likes

  19. Helen Baumgartner says:

    Thank you for opening up the issue — there’s so much we do not know–please keep going with all your information. in appreciation

       0 likes

  20. Mary A. Zill says:

    It seems it would be wise to prevent disease, sickness and death to ‘nuke’ much more foods
    than is being done.

       0 likes

  21. As far as money goes , complaints are made about people living to be 1oo years old, that will surely change as they keep messing with our food with GMO etc and Co.s like monsanto .Where will it end ?We simply wont be living as long .

       0 likes

  22. Linda says:

    I will NOT support Slaughter’s bill because the freaking government will use it as an excuse to make all antibiotics available by rx only. Then my animals who get injured and actually need treatment will suffer needlessly because I would have to call a veterinarian out and pay big freaking bucks to do something that I could have done myself for 1/16 the cost! I never overuse or abuse any medication for my family or my animals, but if I need to use them, I need to use them. Having to waste my hard earned money on something I do not need (the vet’s “permission”) is just as wrong as the government telling us what we can eat or use, etc.

       0 likes

  23. GARY CARONE says:

    We wouldn’t have these problems with our food supply if the FDA ENFORCED THE REGULATIONS THAT WERE PUT INTO LAWS TO PROTECT OUR FOOD SUPPLY.But since OUR PUBLIC LEADERS ARE BOUGHT AND PAYED FOR BY THESE CORRUPT CORPORATIONS DON’T EXPECT ANY CHANGE EXCEPT FOR THE WORST !

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  24. Brenda Vargas says:

    I was reading a report from Dr. Rima the other day and according to her report on the out break was that they had found plague DNA in the e-coli. That would make this man made by a very sick person/s. I will continue to buy organic this will not make me change my mind.

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  25. It never made sense to me to take medication of any kind unless it is needed. Somewhat like dumping a pitcher of water into Lake Michigan in case there is a drought in the future. Not only a waste of resources, but just stupid. So why give antibiotics to animals that are not sick? In case they might someday, perhaps, maybe, become sick sometime in the future? Unless someone is trying to get rich from the sale and administration of these drugs, this practice defies logic.

    The only reason that makes any sense for this activity is if it is planned to intentionally make anyone eating the product sick, because that is the only guaranteed outcome. So the logic, based on that premise, is to keep affected people from quality medical care, make these poor people as sick as possible, and mass quantities of people will be able to finance continuing drug production, and then they die. So using this logic, the intent is legislated genocide. Is this the legislature’s intent?

    Personally speaking, anyone not supporting Rep. Slaughter’s bill to ban the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in animals has greed and genocide in mind!

       0 likes

  26. safermeds says:

    Very interesting article. I agree. Do you happen to know which class or classes of antibiotics were tried and failed on the infected humans?

       0 likes

  27. concerned says:

    Who could ever really believe that the culprit is organics…only folks who need an excuse to keep eating badly, ha ha…keep it strong, doing the right thing!!

       0 likes

  28. When I served in the Army, I was station in Germany and the farmers used Human Manure
    to fertalize their crops. There you go, human feces for fertalizing. They called the wagon that
    held the Human Manure, “the Honey Wagon”.

       0 likes

    • Pat Gentile says:

      This is my thought right along.Also when harvesting crops are they harvested by hand and where are the workers going to the bathroom? Since when can humans ingest their own excrement and remain healthy? There is an American company “Synagro” processing human waste for fertilizer. Have we all gone insane for the that almighty dollar?

         0 likes

  29. Alison Robb says:

    Of course organics can’t be blames. They just want to do away with organic farming.

    I have always grown organically, eaten organically and always will.

    Common sense. Damn those who for their own ends want to poison us and destroy us.

       0 likes

  30. Loretta says:

    When E Coli show up blame the veggies! How silly, how non- thinking. It seems these folks of nuking the food supply are suffering from having had their brain nuked.

       0 likes

  31. Richard A McCormick says:

    These germ breakouts are all planted by Big Agro that wants to iridate the food supply for some odd reason. This world is getting worse and worse. We are essentially lab rats. “Lets see what we can do the worlds population this week, we are bored and need something to break so we can fix it and look like the heroes” I’m not buying it. These assholes, need to be brought to justice! Folks are too scared to stand up to them but if we ALL educated ourselves and did stand up to them they would back down. People are wimps when it comes to Govt and Big Business thinking they have the upper hand but in reality WE have the upper hand we just don’t channel our energies for justice and doing things the right way, we ALLOW them carte blache and look what’s happening to the world. Organic food is going away, oil prices are horrendous but alternative energy is barely being explored in most ares of the world. Leaders are so corrupt NONE can be trusted… the list is endless. I can’t wait for this world to blow it’s self up or we do…. we have failed in our mission here, tremendously!

       0 likes

    • Sherri Carlson says:

      It’s very easy to get disheartened by all the bad stuff going on in the world. But instead of going in a downward spiral of thinking (which I’ve been known to do from time to time), I think it’s more productive to “keep the faith” and just try to stay positive and push for positive solutions. I’ve been working on trying to improve the school lunch programs for over 10 years and feel like I’ve gotten nowhere. However, when I look back at where I started, I see we actually did have some victories and are headed in a positive direction. Waaaaay slower than I had hoped, but at least it’s something.

         0 likes

    • jan says:

      i totally agree with you. that is why there are all these gadgets and electronics and celebrity bullcrap news and prescription drugs everywhere. they want to keep us too busy, too drugged, too stressed in our lives to confront them. the government is so corrupt from local districts all the way to obama. there are the “behind the scenes” people running everything and using big business and government all as a front. it is disgusting what has happened to our country. greed greed greed, and coruption. all for the rich. kill the middle class, leave everyone poor as they will then be easier to control. we need a revolt. we need Robin Hood for President–steal from the rich and give back to the poor. and while we are at it—insurance, oil, and drugs are ruling this country. they are killing us all. all the banking stuff and auto takeover and lending was a scheme too…..i do believe the e coli is a scheme also so they can irradiate our food. please people wake up!!!!!

         0 likes

  32. Susan Turnbach says:

    This is more of a question.
    How do seeds get contaminated with E. coli? Perhaps 6-8 years ago, I grew alfalfa spouts for use in my sandwich at lunch. Every afternoon I noticed intestinal distress. I finally tried not eating sprouts, and the problem disappeared. I read later that alfalfa seeds had become contaminated with E. coli. So is it possible to ever again get non-contaminated seeds?

    The press reported that some of seeds at the organic sprout farm came from Asia. How could these seeds be tested? Sample every lot of sprouts?

       0 likes

    • Barbara Talbert says:

      Many fertilizers and pesticides are pelletized with chitin or melamine. Neither one is safe and is easily contaminated with organisms in the dry state that can become airborne or active with the additon of moisture. Also both take quite a while to degrade although they are biodegradable. In their interim state they may pollute the soil or the seeds.

         0 likes

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