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Could Green BioGas ferment botulism?

Clostridium Botulinum is one of the toughest bugs around. And its toxin (a neurotoxin) is also one of the most deadly, yet strangely popular at the same time. Yes botulinum toxin is also known as BoTox and tiny quantities paralyze nerves. Small quantities can be fatal as nerve damage progresses to respiratory failure.

In it’s spore stage you can boil the bug to no avail — it’s one of the reasons boiling isn’t enough for tins, or sterilization of lab equipment. To kill these spores you need 121C in an autoclave (or pressure cooker). The toxin itself can be destroyed at 100C.

A million acres of land are producing corn for biogas plants in Germany.

German “Green” Biogas Plants Producing Deadly Botulism – “Could Be Catastrophic To Wildlife”

By P Gosselin on 19. Mai 2011 No tricks Zone

German sporting and dog magazine Wild und Hund reports that thousands of domestic and wild animals are falling ill from tainted waste from green “climate-friendly” biogas plants, which is then used as an agricultural fertilizer in fields.

Hat tip:Dirk Maxeiner here (in a commentary titled: “Gross negligence in green”).


In the German region of Vogtland in Saxony, 600 cows and the farmer himself fell seriously ill. Diagnosis: chronic botulism. And that was no isolated incident …

The unnatural ferment

In early spring when harvesting biomass plants, foremost green rye, young wildlife end up getting minced by harvesters and end up as an ingredient in the biogas plant brew. In a addition slaughterhouse waste and other meat, such as old hens, along with manure slurry, get thrown in as raw material. At a brewing temperature of 40°C, bacteria multiply with abandon…

The brewing pot with such a gruesome mix is then heated to 70C to make it hygienic, which of course doesn’t bother the botulinum spores at all. The waste material is used as fertilizer and the spores are spread across farmland for wildlife and cattle to ingest.

The end result is more often a chronic form of poisoning rather than the acute very deadly variety.

Read it all at No tricks Zone (there are interesting comments too).

See the story in German on and watch affected cows struggle: Youtube.

My hat tip to Lawrie Ayres.

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