Is Organic Farming responsible for E.coli poisoning?

This is not in defensive of highly industrialized organic farming…but to share some thoughts about the way we produce, trade and eat food…as this is going to be our future as well….

E.Coli is a bacteria commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms including human beings. Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning in humans and are occasionally responsible for product recalls particularly processed foods.  therefore it is more to do with process of clean production, processing, storing and cooking.  since it lives in the gut of animals…E. coli cells are a major component of feces, and fecal-oral transmission is the major route through which pathogenic strains of the bacterium cause disease apart from spoilage of processed foods. Cells are able to survive outside the body for a limited amount of time, which makes them ideal indicator organisms to test environmental samples for fecal contamination.

As organic farming uses dung and dung based products extensively…its linked to that.  Most of the cases of E.coli poisoning is for products which are stored for a long time…in a unhygenic conditions…however off late when there is growing markets for organic…and long food miles do carry all the evils.

E. coli bacteria escape the intestinal tract through a perforation (for example from an ulcer, a ruptured appendix, or due to a surgical error) and enter the abdomen, they usually cause peritonitis that can be fatal without prompt treatment. However, E. coli are extremely sensitive to such antibiotics as streptomycin or gentamicin. This could change since, as noted below, E. coli quickly acquires drug resistance.  high use of antibiotics, use of antibiotic resistance markers in GM crops, use of antibiotics as hormones in animal feed…are all responsible for this resistance development.

some more info…
Certain strains of E. coli produce potentially lethal toxins. Food poisoning caused by E. coli can result from eating unwashed vegetables or undercooked meat. Few strains (O157:H7 particularly) are also notorious for causing serious and even life-threatening complications such as hemolytic-uremic syndrome. This particular strain is linked to the 2006 United States E. colioutbreak due to fresh spinach. The O104:H4 strain is, though rarer, still more dangerous because it is just as virulent, if not more so. Antibiotic and supportive treatment protocols for it are not as well-developed (it has the ability to be cause bloody diarrhea like O157:H7, causing bloody diarrhea, but also is more entero-aggregative, meaning it adheres well and clumps to intestinal membranes). It is the strain behind the ongoing and deadly June 2011 E. coli outbreak in Europe. Severity of the illness varies considerably; it can be fatal, particularly to young children, the elderly or the immunocompromised, but is more often mild. Earlier, poor hygienic methods of preparing meat in Scotland killed seven people in 1996 due to E. coli poisoning, and left hundreds more infected.
however, if proper care is not taken its not only chemicals but microorganisms can also kill.  living organisms are more dangerous because they can multiply…where as chemicals degrade over time….many of you may know that leafy vegetables grown along musi has caused huge death toll in 70s in hyderabad. the leafy vegetables were also banned for a while. situations have not changed since then…heavy metals, chemicals residues and deadly micro organisms are still part of food…specially grown with musi waters.  Cleaning up is expensive and impractical given the lax administration in our society…preventing (avoiding) at source is the best option.

Organic food linked to E. coli outbreak?

Smita PandeySmita Pandey, TNN | Jun 12, 2011, 01.17am IST
If you are a health food freak who lives on salads and swears by the benefits of organically grown raw vegetables, it’s time for a reality check. In 16 countries across the globe, nearly 3,000 people have been sickened and 29 have died after eating raw vegetables contaminated by a group of bacteria collectively called Escherichia coli ( E. coli).

Authorities first cited contaminated Spanish cucumbers as the culprit and now organically grown sprouts from Germany are being seen as the most likely cause. The source of the infection still remains a mystery. Experts believe organic sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes or lettuce contaminated somewhere between farm and fork have caused the disease.

Scientists say the outbreak has been caused by a rare toxic mutant of E coli that causes abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhoea. In severe cases, it leads to acute kidney failure and even seizure, coma and death. Germany, where the outbreak originated, has reported 722 cases of kidney failure, including 18 fatalities, says WHO.

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says the E coli outbreak is one of the largest worldwide and the largest ever reported in Germany. Most of the victims were women and it is not known why.

Dr Helge Karch, of University Hospital Munster in Germany, who identified the bacterial strain behind the outbreak, says it is a hybrid clone that contains genetic material from various bacteria. Karch says the strain shows very high antibiotic resistance and is more toxic than its parent.

The findings raises questions about methods used in organic farming.

Organic foods are by definition fertilized with animal manure and that’s where E coli exist. ECDC says these bacteria are found in the lower intestine of mammals. This leads experts to believe that the German outbreak most likely occurred due to contamination through manure in organic farms, from a sewage leak in the irrigation supply or from a worker handling the produce.

If cattle manure is used as fertilizer, it is entirely possible that vegetables could be contaminated with fecal matter, Dr Jonathan Fletcher, lecturer of microbiology at the University of Bradford in UK, told TOI. There should have been stringent washing procedures to remove this, and consumers or restaurant owners should also have been advised to wash the vegetables before eating, he said.

Even in the past, several studies have found higher levels of E coli on organic vegetables compared to others. In 2006, a large E coli outbreak was linked to an organic spinach farm in California. Around 205 people were infected and three died due to the illness. WHO says the main advice is to wash one’s hands after using the toilet and before consuming food; and to wash food thoroughly with clean water, especially if it is consumed raw. Peeling or cooking fruit and vegetables can also remove these germs, says Fletcher.


Assessment reports of technical dossiers of various transgenic events

GenØk-Centre for Biosafety is a designated National Competence Centre for Biosafety in Norway. We are pleased to inform you that GenØk’s assessments of technical dossiers for various transgenic events are available  at These assessments may be of interest to other countries.

Roundup and birth defects Is the public being kept in the dark?

A new report by Earth Open Resources highlights the problems with the Herbicide Glyphosate.


similarly some time back there was another research article which clearly showed similar problems

Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects onVertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid SignalingAlejandra Paganelli, Victoria Gnazzo, Helena Acosta, Silvia L. Lo´ pez, andAndre´s E. Carrasco


Sticky: Microbial properties, enzyme activities and the persistence of exogenous proteins in soil under consecutive cultivation of transgenic cottons (Gossypium hirsutum L.)

PLANT SOIL ENVIRON., 57, 2011 (2): 67–74 67

Z.H. Chen, L.J. Chen, Y.L. Zhang, Z.J. Wu

Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, P.R. China


One Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and two stacked Bt and cowpea trypsin inhibitor (Bt + CpTI) cottons and their non-transgenic isolines were consecutively cultivated to investigate the soil persistence of Cry1Ac and CpTI pro­teins and their effects on microbial properties and enzyme activities involving C, N, P, and S cycling in soil. Results showed that there were the persistence of Cry1Ac and CpTI proteins in soil under 4-year consecutive cultivation of transgenic cottons. Cry1Ac proteins varied from 6.75 ng/g to 12.01 ng/g and CpTI proteins varied from 30.65 to 43.60 ng/g. However, neither of these two proteins was detected in soil under non-transgenic cottons. Soil micro­bial biomass carbon, microbial activities, and soil enzyme activities (except urease and phosphodiesterase) signifi­cantly decreased in soil under transgenic cottons. Correlation analysis showed that most of microbial properties and enzyme activities in soil had a negative relationship with Cry1Ac content, while most of them had a positive relationship with CpTI content. Our data indicate that consecutive cultivation by genetically modified cottons with Bt and CpTI genes can result in persistence of Cry1Ac and CpTI proteins and negatively affect soil microbial and biochemical properties.

Detrimental effect of expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac on in vitro regeneration, in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics

Detrimental effect of expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac on in vitro regeneration, in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics
1 Department of Genetics, University of Delhi South Campus, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi 110 021, India
2 Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi South Campus, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi 110 021, India
*Corresponding author (Fax, +91-11-24112761; Email,
† These authors contributed equally to the work.
High levels of expression of the cry1Ac gene from Bacillus thuringiensis cannot be routinely achieved in transgenic plants despite modifications made in the gene to improve its expression. This has been attributed to the instability of the transcript in a few reports. In the present study, based on the genetic transformation of cotton and tobacco, we show
that the expression of the Cry1Ac endotoxin has detrimental effects on both the in vitro and in vivo growth and development of transgenic plants. A number of experiments on developing transgenics in cotton with different versions of cry1Ac gene showed that the majority of the plants did not express any Cry1Ac protein. Based on Southern blot analysis, it was also observed that a substantial number of lines did not contain the cry1Ac gene cassette although they contained the marker gene nptII. More significantly, all the lines that showed appreciable levels of expression were found to be phenotypically abnormal. Experiments on transformation of tobacco with different constructs expressing the cry1Ac gene showed that in vitro regeneration was inhibited by the encoded protein. Further, out of a total of 145 independent events generated with the different cry1Ac gene constructs in tobacco, only 21 showed expression of the Cry1Ac protein, confirming observations made in cotton that regenerants that express high levels of the Cry1Ac protein are selected against during regeneration of transformed events. This problem was circumvented by targeting the Cry1Ac protein to the chloroplast, which also significantly improved the expression of the protein.

36 363–376] DOI 10.1007/s12038-011-9074-5 [Rawat P, Singh AK, Ray K, Chaudhary B, Kumar S, Gautam T, Kanoria S, Kaur G, Kumar P, Pental D and Burma PK 2011 Detrimental effect of expression of Bt endotoxin Cry1Ac on in vitro regeneration, in vivo growth and development of tobacco and cotton transgenics. J. Biosci].