Q&A | Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, University of Minnesota

01/13/2012 09:01:00 AM
Tom Karst

Diez-Gonzalez1:01 p.m. Francisco Diez-Gonzalez: Part of my research has been focused on trying to answer the question (about the presence of pathogens on organic compared with conventionally grown produce), and there are a number of people at work on this particular area in different parts of the world. Maybe not sufficient (research) to actually to come up with a good answer that reporters like to get — (to say) organic vegetables would be more or less safe than conventional.

The short answer is that I don’t think there that were strong indications that organic vegetables had more susceptibility of being contaminated as compared to conventional. 

1:05 p.m. Karst: FDA is developing the produce safety rules as we speak. Do they have enough information to advise good agricultural practices relative to various farming practices?

1:06 p.m. Diez-Gonzalez: Yes and no. The “yes” of what I’m saying is that if (the FDA) wants to prevent cases like the cantaloupe outbreak from happening, that would have been prevented with existing knowledge of good manufacturing practices.

On the other hand, I think we still, at the research level, recognize the fact we are trying to understand how the organisms, the pathogens, are capable of surviving (and) how they can get into the produce. The other main question is what methods can be effectively used to control them, or kill them, once they are in the produce.

1:09 p.m. Karst: Specifically, as far as organic agriculture, do you think your research so far tells you that they need to do anything differently than what they are doing now?

1:10 p.m. Diez-Gonzalez: The one thing that I have said, that I have been advocating, is for the National Organic Program to review the recommendations for the use of raw manure. 



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