After torrential downpour soaked their fields, some soybean farmers are being advised that they may have to destroy their crops as a food safety precaution.

At issue is a 2009 notice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding the effect of natural disasters on food safety.  Because flooding can cause crops to be contaminated by “sewage, chemicals, heavy metals, pathogenic microorganisms or other contaminants,”  the FDA deems exposed crops “adulterated” and not fit for animal or human consumption.  It says they should be destroyed.

Some South Dakota growers think this may to taking caution too far and that the risks of contamination are minimal.

According to an article published this week in the Argus Leader, only a couple of dozen farmers and a few thousand acres are potentially affected by floodwaters. 

So the director of the South Dakota Soybean Association has urged farmers to segregate possibly contaminated beans rather than destroy them.  Any suspect soybeans can then be tested for, among other things, such human pathogens as Salmonella, E. coli and fecal coliform, the group suggests.

Some farmers who said their soybeans were flooded weeks ago learned about the FDA advisory last week, the newspaper said.  If the crops can’t be sold for food, the story said, about the only option available would be to sell them for fuel.