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Why Slather This Spinach Field In Poop? It's All For Science

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Why are these scientists in hazmat suits smiling? They're standing in a field that they are about to spread with raw manure – four different kinds of raw manure, to be exact.

Michele Jay-Russell, a University of California, Davis food safety scientist, posted the above picture on Twitter last week with the tantalizing tagline – "Day 0: raw animal manure fertilizer and E. coli inoculum to be applied to fallow spinach field."

In a nutshell, Jay-Russell and her team are trying to see how long E. coli in raw manure survives in the soil and how much gets onto leafy greens harvested months later.

The experiment comes as the Food and Drug Administration is proposing a rule requiring many produce growers to wait nine months between applying raw manure to a field and harvesting crops there. That's because the agency sees raw manure as a food safety risk.

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