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

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”).

Wild und Hund has put out a press release announcing a report appearing in its latest issue, now available at news stands today. The Wild und Hund press release reads as follows (slight editing added for international readers):


There’s been a terrible suspicion for years. The residue from biogas plants that produce “clean” green electricity is causing a deadly disease among domestic and wild animals, and humans – chronic botulism.
Wild und Hund not only examines the disease, but also looks into the background as to why such a hazard has not been publicly discussed for 10 years. In the aftermath of Fukushima, the public wishes to shift to renewable energy sources. Today in Germany already over a million acres of land are producing corn for biogas plants. German Agriculture Minister Ms Ilse Aigner announced on 27 April 2011 that land used for growing plants for producing energy will be significantly expanded to an area anywhere between 4 to 6 million acres. Today biogas plants are sprouting everywhere in the countryside.

However, the supposedly environmentally friendly supply of energy is likely hiding a lethal bacteria in its waste. Christoph Boll of the hunting magazine WILD UND HUND has investigated the disease, whose existence has been denied by the industry, and whose impact on wildlife could be catastrophic to wildlife. 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 says Professor Dr. Helge Böhnel of the University of Göttingen. The scientist reveals that the number of sick animals observed runs to 4-digit numbers. Dr Böhnel is convinced that chronic and visceral botulism could impact all birds and mammals  – including humans.

In general botulism is a lethal type of poisoning. But chronic botulism can also stealthily drag on in small quantities for years. Dr. Böhnel believes that biogas plants are “very likely” the source. How is it caused exactly? 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, which in turn leads to the production of enormously resistant botulinum spores that survive the hygienisation process (heating to 70°C). The waste material that is left at the end of the biogas process then gets used as fertilizer for agriculture, and so the spores wind up spread all over the landscape where they get ingested by grazing animals (domestic livetsock, wildlife, birds, etc.). Once in the digestive tract they then convert into the bacteria that produce the deadly toxin. Often the amount of toxin is not sufficient for a quick death, rather the poisoning is slow and chronic.”

So add another to the list of wonderful things delivered by the green revolution, which already includes a mercury contaminated environment from energy saving lights, birds getting shredded by windparks that have devastated the local landscape, biofuels that drive up the price of food and so lead to hunger for millions more, etc.

Finally, I wonder if they use this all-natural fertilizer from the “clean” biogas plants as a fertiliser for the organic food farms?


Cause of the suffering and dead cows: chronic botulism. Worse! The infected cattle shown that are still alive are being slaughtered and sold as fresh meat to supermarkets! The moderators says:

“The state veterinary officials say chronic botulism does not warrant the cattle be stopped from being slaughtered. ‘For the delivery of cattle for slaughter…there are no restrictions.’ “


Experts say up to 1000 farms may be affected – thousands of dead animals are the result.”

In the meantime, the infected cattle are being sent to slaughterhouses, and the meat to the supermarkets. The German health officials don’t want to hear about it, the report says. The Green movement keeps moving. This is a scandal.

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

  1. R. de Haan

    Besides the botulism problem we have a much larger problem in terms of competition between bio plant farmers and food farmers.

    Food farmer who grow their crops based on market prices can’t pay more than € 450,00 rent per hectare.

    Bio plant farmers however pay over € 1.000,00 per hectare.

    The result: High electricity bills thanks to the Green Gods and nothing to eat.

    It’s a scam, a scam, a scam.

  2. Ed Caryl

    Unintended and unexamined consequences. Nuclear is unsafe??? Let’s see. The consequences so far are:
    Driving up the cost of food.
    Killing livestock and wildlife.
    Poisoning farmers.
    Contaminating “organic” crops.
    Triggering unrest in the Middle East. (From rising food prices.)
    Providing a fuel nobody wants.

  3. Ed Caryl
    1. DirkH

      Oh great, humans get gangrene from this one. Chalk another one up for the greens.

  4. DirkH

    I went to google news de and entered “Botulismus Biogas”. (Botulismus is the German word for the disease caused by the Botulin toxin.) This story is about to get big. One of the articles i found:
    “Warum nun die Sporen von Clostridien botulinum so massiv in den letzten Jahren zunehmen, bedarf der unbedingten Aufklärung. […]”
    “Why spores of Clostridia Botulinum have increased so massively in the last years needs an urgent explanation. Not only microbiologists suspect that the usage of substrates from high risk materials (slaughterhouse waste, food leftovers and chicken feces) in mesophile bio gas plants promotes massive distribution of the spores.”

    1. DirkH

      They link to this TV show by MDR (East German public broadcaster) showing terrible pictures of live cattle suffering from chronic botulism. Video was uploaded APR 2011.

      1. DirkH

        The farmer in the video is himself affected by chronic botulism, is partially paralysed and has the remaining strength of a 13 year old, they say. His parents are affected as well.

        The article from Proplanta i linked to above mentions that there are a growing number of reports of pigs and dogs affected. (Usually Botulism is only appearing in cattle)

  5. R. de Haan

    Right, this provides a whole new dimension to energy security.

    The entire green energy mantra is a scam.

    There is no green energy. It’s a fiction but a very dangerous fiction.

  6. DirkH

    Cats affected as well.

    Vets urge recognition as zoonosis.

    Looks like this is becoming the German equivalent to the UK’s BSE scandal.

    1. Ed Caryl

      At least they don’t need to shoot the cattle to stop the spread. They just need to shut the biogas plants. Problem solved.

      1. DirkH

        Ed, the cattle in a herd re-infect each other via their feces. To save them, one would have to isolate them which won’t happen. The video Pierre posted talks about entire herds wiped out this way, up to 1000 heads one herd. In the end, a farm is wiped out and its operators bankrupt – as Botulism is ATM not recognized as an epidemic they don’t get compensation from the funds for animal epidemics.

        Very tragic for the families. The officials play cover up, probably to not endanger their misguided energy policies which seem to be at the heart of the matter.

        1. DirkH

          Correction: Re-infection seems to be a hypothesis and not proven by now. So you might be right that it could suffice to make sure the feedstock is free of botulinum toxin to save the cattle.

          (see sections “Viszeraler Botulismus” and “Viszerale Form”; a form of botulism first described in Germany in 2001; the hypothesis being that clostridia botulinum multiplies in the visceral cavities of cattle.).

          Adult humans kill spores by means of stomach acid and so cannot develop visceral botulism; babies, lacking stomach acid, have been reported to develop visceral botulism by ingesting spores contained in honey.

          1. Ed Caryl

            Reinfection would depend on the spore load in the soil. This will decrease over time, depending on the acidity of the rain. Are there any coal-fired power plants up-wind?

          2. DirkH

            In the video, they talked about cow feces containing spores due to clostridia botulinum living in their stomachs or intestine. So the cows poo on the ground in their sty, other cows take up the spores while foraging in the straw. That’s the reinfection i meant.

            All coal fired power plants in Germany have flue gas filters installed in the 90ies; removing SO2. No big source of acid around…

          3. Ed Caryl

            Foraging in the straw is preventable.

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  8. R. de Haan

    Response to published link from Cheifio, E.M Smith:

    Per Botulism:

    That is rather interesting. As clostridium botulinum is incredibly hard to kill in the spore stage already, I doubt that there is anything new going on here (i.e. not a new evolutionary strain). It takes over an hour at 240 F / 115 C to kill all the spores in canned meat / fish, for example. In highly acid environments you can get that down to 20 minutes at 212 F / 100 C (the ‘boiling water bath’ canning of tomatos).

    As biogas is made with modest ph ( near 6.8 – 7.5 for one class of ‘bugs’) that higher temp / long time would be needed just to do in the normal garden variety botulism.

    And yes, it is literally “garden variety”. Take just about any farm soil in the world and sample it, you will find boluism organisms. (That’s WHY it is so essential to can ALL foods at those temperatures and pressures).

    The potential for an “over exposure problem” is of interest. You can always overwhelm an immune system with enough innoculant.

    So I don’t see that so much as a “kind” problem (as C. Botulinum is already everywhere) as a ‘degree’ problem (in more ways than one… 70 C / 158 F is more like “incubation for thermophiles” than sterilization temperature… )

    To me, the solution is likely pretty simple too. Use the sludge on crops that are NOT for animal grazing. Use it on crops that will be canned (as that process already kills spores).

    A simple technical solution would be to acidify the sludge prior to the heat treatment. Make it acid enough and you can kill the botulinum without a whole lot of heat. Then neutralize the ph with some lime and spread your fertizlier. If you used sulphuric acid to acidify, then dolomite to neutralize, your end product would be a greatly enriched fertilizer with “Calcium Magnesium Sulfphates” in it… something plants like…

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