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E. coli in Cattle


Despite mainstream medicine`s accusation that E

Despite mainstream medicine's accusation that E. coli is redolent in organically grown foods, the truth is that the deadliest strains (E. coli-157:H7) are found in beef that is ground into hamburger or cut into steaks.

The E. coli bacteria can cause death and kidney failure among children and the elderly. The bug is harmless to the cattle themselves, but migrates from internal organs when the animals are slaughtered, and hides in their flesh. It's found most often on the hides of feedlot cattle and is spread when animals defecate and/or drool in water troughs. The fear of this deadly bacteria is a worldwide concern, especially for countries importing US beef.

The solution offered by both the American cattle industry and the US government, however, is not to improve cattle farming practice but to develop a vaccine to "eliminate the bacteria from the gut of the animals." Irradiating all beef products is another popular industry suggestion. Both of these methods create more business for industry but are not to the advantage of the consumer.

Vaccines and irradiation are industry band-aids. They do not guarantee food safety. Anyone eating beef products or consuming eggs should be careful to look for a "certified organic" label.

Meanwhile international trade wars over food continue to mount. France still refuses to buy British beef because of mad cow disease, so British beef farmers are staging a boycott of French wines and urging Britons to drink beer instead! The European Union still refuses to buy genetically engineered products from the US or Canada. Canadian grain growers are faced with burning last year's GE crops as well as the high cost of segregating this year's seed. The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) has stated it will put $1.5 million towards the task of quickly segregating already harvested GE grains from Standard crops. However, it wants the federal government and the biotechnology industry to match the funds.

The call for seed segregation is all in aid of the export market. Chief executive officer of the CWB says farmers must give export customers what they want. No one seems concerned about Canadian consumers, who have stated many times that they do not want genetically engineered crops of any kind.

International agribusiness and the future of food is a foremost issue. Fortunately, the consumer holds the winning hand and should continue to demand a moratorium on genetically engineered food crops until adequate testing regarding human safety is completed. This can take years. And it may not even be possible to determine the effect that genetically altered foods have down the road on allergies and chemical sensitivities.



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