From the January 2001 Idaho Observer:

“Biosolids” concerns erupt all over North America

Citizens concerned that farmers are being paid to spread toxins,disease

What do you do with the toxic byproduct of aluminum and fertilizer production? Call it fluoride and mandate that people consume it because its good for their teeth. What do you do with mountains of toxin and disease-laden treated sewage? Call them “biosolids and provide inscentives for farmers to spread it on their fields as fertilizer. After publishing “Is the road to medical armageddon being paved with human feces” (The Idaho Observer, December, 2000) we found out that people from Texas to Canada have already been protesting the use of sewage sludge to fertilize the crops that contribute to North America's food supply.

OTTAWA, Canada -- Toronto environmental researcher Maureen Reilly recently issued a press release regarding her concerns that the use of “biosolids” to fertilize farmers' fields is a public health disaster in the making. Her particular concern stems from an incident where prion-contaminated biosolids were spread on local farmers' fields.

Prions are the protein crystals that cause lesions, called encephalothapies, in the brains of infected people and animals. Prion disease is referred to as mad cow disease in cows, scrapie in sheep and pigs, wasting disease in wild animals, whirling disease in fish and Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease in people. Prions are not easily destroyed and can remain infectious for several years.

Reilly also sent a letter to Ottawa Governor Bob Chiarelli condemning his office's refusal to inform citizens that the contaminated sludge had been spread on farmers' fields as fertilizer.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) laboratory was responsible for the contamination. The federal agency was testing infected and uninfected sheep tissue looking for a way to test for scrapie in live sheep because, at present, the only way to check for prion disease is upon autopsy.

“For five months earlier this year, tissues from sheep infected with scrapie (the sheep version of mad cow disease) were accidently sent to the Ottawa waste water treatment plant without being adequately treated to kill the infective agents in the tissue...” the press release said.

The release of the tissues was publicly acknowledged earlier this year by the CFIA, but the federal agency's laboratory officials were not informed that the sludge containing prion-infected tissues was spread on farmland in the greater Ottawa area.

“It is appalling that your staff failed to inform these experts that the sludge is placed on farmland. We need public officials and regulators that we can count on to protect our food, water, and resources. This failure should be reviewed and appropriate steps taken. I phoned your staff at the plant several times. The manager has not returned my calls,” Reilly told Mayor Chiarelli.

See the letters to the editor page 22. The spread of prion disease through government policy that pays farmers to spread “biosolids” on farmers' fields is a looming public health disaster.

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