"Sinister Spinach" - Golden Bull Award (19/9/2006)

1.Tainted Spinach Update
2.Sinister Spinach [via AgBioView]
3.The E. Coli Spinach Contamination Issue: Media Talking Points

GM WATCH COMMENT: There's been a nasty e-coli outbreak in the States linked to fresh spinach, and the usual suspects have gone into immediate overdrive in an attempt to blame it onto organic farming.

From item 1 it seems they've jumped the gun.

The 'Sinister Spinach' piece - item 2 - topped the latest GM-promoting AgBioView bulletin from CS Prakash, while the GM-loving Hudson Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which enjoy Monsanto's backing, are said to be busy trying to exploit the situation (item 3).

For Craig Sams' demolition of the kind of false claims repeatedly put out by the Hudson Institute, see

For more of the background, see 'Dennis Avery's full of horsesh*t'

1.Tainted Spinach Update
NewsChannel 3, Sep 19, 2006

Monday the investigation into the e-coli tainted spinach revealed only conventionally grown spinach is affected. None of the people who became sick ate organic spinach.

To understand the difference between organic and conventionally grown we went to New Earth Farm in Virginia Beach.

John Wilson has been following organic practices since the 1970's. First thing he wanted to show us was his compost pile. "That's what makes my spinach healthy. There are organisms in there, aerobic, oxygen breathing organisms. You give them the advantage they out compete the disease organisms."

Wilson believes the source of the e-coli will likely turn out to be cow manure. That's what a lot of conventional growers use. "Cow manure is the primary source of e-coli according to most research. Organic growers are not allowed to put raw manure on the field."

Wilson is waiting for his fall spinach to grow. He'll probably plant a few extra beds now that everyone needs spinach.

At Virginia Garden Organic Grocery in The Virginia Beach Farmer's Market they've cleared out all their spinach. "Just as a precaution." They do have some tasty alternatives including kale, collards, and Swiss chard. Once organic spinach is available they'll stock it again.

Wilson hopes to have it to them in a few weeks. I asked the important question. "Is your spinach safe? Yes my spinach is safe."

2.Sinister Spinach [via AgBioView]
New York Sun Editorial, September 18, 2006

This just in from the federal Food and Drug Administration - and, as Dave Barry would say, we're not making this up: "FDA advises consumers to not eat fresh spinach or fresh spinach-containing products until further notice."

That's right, spinach - that health food endorsed by everyone from your mother to Popeye the Sailor Man - is now a health threat. Why, next thing you know, tobacco will turn out to be good for you.

Spinach features prominently in "The Miracle Foods Cookbook: Easy, Low-Cost Recipes and Menus That Help You Lose Weight, Fight Disease, and Slow the Aging Process." The American Cancer Society Web site features a recipe for Saint Anthony Hotel's Famous Spinach Pudding. Of the American Heart Association's Web site's "Top Ten Food Tips," three of them identify spinach by name and advise consumers to eat it.

Yet suddenly, according to the FDA, spinach — or, more precisely, the E. Coli bacteria that it carries — causes diarrhea that can lead to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, "serious kidney damage and even death." The FDA says it hasn't yet determined whether the problem is confined to organic spinach, but the spinach producer that has recalled much of its product has several organic brands.

It wouldn't surprise us one bit were it to turn out that the E. Coli bacteria came from manure that is being used instead of chemical fertilizer.

In an effort to avoid the imagined health threats of chemical fertilizer, farmers and consumers are using bacteria-laden manure. In an effort to avoid the imagined health threats of radiation, the organic spinach isn't irradiated to kill the harmful bacteria, either.

So now hundreds of Americans are suffering, millions of dollars worth of spinach is being thrown away, and at least one person is reported to have died. The spinach scare comes the weekend that the World Health Organization recommended the use of DDT to fight malaria in Africa. In the 24 years since the chemical pesticide was banned in America because of health concerns, millions of African children have died of malaria.

The harm from organic spinach will likely be on a much smaller scale, but the principles may well be the same. Chemicals, radiation, and technology aren't always bad, but can actually lead to better health. What's "natural" - whether they are malarial mosquitoes or bacterialaden manure - isn't always best for your health. And the politically correct public health bureaucrats are usually a good decade or two behind the times.

3.The E. Coli Spinach Contamination Issue: Media Talking Points
From Cornucopia Institute
9/17/2006 5:45:00 PM
To: National Desk, Health Reporter
Contact: Mark Kastel of Cornucopia Institute, 608-625-2042

CORNUCOPIA, Wis., Sept. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following information is a counter to the attempt by right-wing think tanks (the Hudson Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, etc.) who are already trying to exploit the spinach E. coli contamination crisis to discredit organic farming practices, according to The Cornucopia Institute. Think tank funding for much of this activity comes from Monsanto, DuPont and other agrichemical manufacturers.

Unless otherwise identified all discussion points

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