When Anti-Technology Kills

by Dennis Avery | June 17, 2011 12:01 am

CHURCHVILLE, VA–This week’s headlines: Another huge, awful outbreak of food-borne bacteria. This time the worst, so far, in modern history; perhaps 2000 sickened, and about 20 dead. At least 500 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome. That means liver damage–and potential death from kidney failure. More than 1000 cases of severe diarrhea. Usually it is the very young and the elderly who are most at risk of serious consequences, but this outbreak targeted young adults, mostly women.

All the known cases involved people who recently ate food in northern Germany–but scientists can’t find the source of the infections. They seldom can. The deadly bacteria appear without warning, and usually disappear before they can be traced.

At least this time we are being spared the sanctimony of the organic believers, since organic cucumbers imported from Spain were early reported as the most likely source of the infections.

People all over Europe are being warned away from eating health-protecting fruits and vegetables. Europe’s farmers are being devastated by the public’s renewed fear of eating produce at the beginning of Europe’s fresh season–and they’re demanding indemnities. The Spanish government is demanding apologies and payments for the losses suffered because Spanish farmers were accused–without undeniable proof–of sickening thousands.

In America, our response to food safety is predictable: we have a hugely expensive new Food Safety Act. We are hiring thousands more inspectors, who won’t be able to find the deadly bacteria in our food before they strike. After the people have gotten sick and/or died, many additional scientists will spend huge sums of public money failing to find the sources of the infections.

Soon, the food scare industry will be on the front pages telling us that this is the ultimate breakdown of Modern Farming, and demanding that we go back to Old McDonald’s farming methods. As they write they will know full well that the E.Coli bacteria is spread mostly through contact with infected feces. And, what do modern day Old McDonalds use for fertilizer? All food growing systems can and do harbor the bacteria, but using manure makes organic food slightly more dangerous.

All of this could have been prevented, but we refuse to use a fabulous technology that’s been known since 1904. Alarmists say it would make our foods “more dangerous.” More dangerous than liver failure? More dangerous than dead?

I’m talking–again, as I have for over 20 years–about electronic pasteurization. About streams of high-energy electronic particles basically sterilizing our ground meat and fresh produce, much as we defanged tuberculosis by pasteurizing our milk. No radioactivity. The necessary doses are so small that the food will even taste fresher–because the spoilage bacteria have been killed.

It has been approved by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Society and the medical authorities of virtually every country with a food science laboratory. But that’s not good enough for a country that resisted pasteurized milk for 40 years. It took a huge epidemic of tuberculosis to get our milk pasteurized, and an ardent group of know-nothings is still demanding the right to sicken themselves with raw, bacteria-laden dairy products

How many more must die before we protect ourselves effectively from the food-borne bacteria that have always contaminated food and always will. Preventive action is the only solution.

This is one time that being right brings me no joy.

Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 2442; email to [email protected] Visit our website at www.cgfi.org

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