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June 4, 1997

Does Organic Gardening Foster Foodborne Pathogens?

Author Affiliations

Organic Trade Association Greenfield, Mass

JAMA. 1997;277(21):1679-1680. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540450035024

To the Editor.  —In the Medical News & Perspectives article on Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Dr Stephenson writes, "Experts say that increased consumption of organically grown, unprocessed foods produced without fertilizers, pesticides, or preservatives may also be contributing to the problem."1 From this statement, it is apparent that these unnamed experts are not experts in agriculture and do not understand the standards of organic agricultural production.Dr Tauxe is quoted in the article as saying that organic food is grown in animal manure. In fact, organic farmers rely on compost, cover crops, and crop rotations to fertilize their fields. Tauxe goes on to say that "there are essentially no regulations related to the use of animal manure in agriculture." The application of raw manure in organic production is restricted by industry organic standards,2 state organic regulations,3 and also the federal Organic Foods Production Act of 1990,4 which