From the June 2004 Idaho Observer:

IO article prompts reader to research prion/biosolids connection, discovers EPA calls the issue “critical”

By The Idaho Observer

Since we ran the story “Biosolids concerns erupt all over North America; Citizens concerned that farmers are being paid to spread toxins, disease” in the January, 2001 edition of The Idaho Observer, H. Shields has been researching the issue. What got her attention was the comment, “The spread of prion disease through a government policy that pays farmers to spread “biosolids” on their fields is a looming public health disaster.”

Shields's subsequent research indicates the disaster may better be described as “imminent” rather than looming. The IO was copied with the report and attached documents she forwarded to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The investigation concerns the practice of paying farmers to spread treated sewage, called “biosolids,” on their fields. The program was sold as a “win, win” situation because it relieves municipalities of the mountains of “waste” accumulating, particularly in large cities, while paying farmers to fertilize their fields.

The treatment process, however, does not remove or neutralize many persistent pathogens that are then taken up by the roots of food crops or eaten by livestock. Among the contaminants that have been found in soils amended by biosolids are heavy metals, synthetic hormones, antibiotics and prions -- the protein crystals associated with Mad Cow, Creutzfeld-Jacob and other species-specific encephalopathic (brain-swelling) diseases.

EPA Region 8 (UT, CO, MT, WY, SD, ND) Pretreatment Coordinator Curt McCormick recently issued an order prohibiting the practice of applying biosolids to farmer fields. Calling the issue “critical,” McCormick stated, “Typical treatment and disinfection processes used by non-domestic users and those at publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs) do not deactivate prions...Prions will pass through the POTW as a pollutant to be received into receiving waters and concentrated into biosolids. Biosolids are the solids produced by POTWs and typically land-applied to food and non-food (grazing) crops.”

In the January, 2004 edition of The IO, we ran an article entitled, “It ain't America anymore: It's Animal Pharm -- The day of the prion has arrived.” Prions, which proliferate in certain conditions prevalent on our planet today, cause tiny lesions in brain tissues, causing them to swell and then causing the host to become “mad.”

Organisms weakened by herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics and other chemicals are vulnerable to prion disease. Prions are nearly impossible to destroy and, therefore, once created, are continually being recycled in wastes and after reuptake by plants and animals from decomposed material.

As if the prion problem being all up and down the food chain is not bad enough, another missive from EPA Region 8 announces that Wyoming funeral directors and embalmers “acknowledge discharge of human prions into public sewers. “Since formaldehyde has no effect on the prion, normal disposal into the sewer system means introducing an unknown quantity of the prion into the sewer system.”

The solution? “...[A]lthough it may not seem to be an adequate solution, the most logical answer is to dispose of the drainage [from embalmers] directly into the sewer system with a minimum of exposure to the embalmer.”

The above quote, taken from a secure site at, speaks volumes: There is no solution -- within the framework of our modern, mass-production, indefinite shelf life, chemically and pharmaceutically-driven world. Prions are not destroyed by fire, either, so cremation is not an option. What we see here, is that government recognizes the dire nature of the problem but the only solutions it offers are, at best, not solutiuons at all.

The truth is that our natural world is telling us to reinstate peaceable trade amongst ourselves and leave corporations to themselves. We must begin producing and trading goods that do not poison our planet.

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