Archives – September, 2011
Sewage sludge has a Facebook page! Only they use the PR term for sludge, biosolids, calling their page “Biosolids Buzz.” Despite the attractive photo of a woman holding soil (presumably sludge) with a seedling growing in it, sludge is not “Liked” by too many other Facebookers, aside from all of the usual suspects. Kellogg Garden Products, a company that profits by selling sewage sludge as “compost,” the U.S. Composting Council, a front group for the sludge industry, the U.S. EPA, which covers for toxic sludge by calling it safe and legal, and the big dog of the sludge industry, the Water Environment Federation, all “Like” this page. (more…)
September 12, 2011
- Wisconsin Judge Rules in Favor of the State Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in Craig and Zinniker Cases: On August 12th, in the cases of Kay and Wayne Craig and Mark and Petra Zinniker (which had been consolidated into a single case), who sought to distribute raw milk to herd shareholders through farm stores, Judge Patrick Fiedler ruled against them on all counts. Read the ruling here.
- Raw Food Co-op Is Raided in California: During the week of August 1st, police confiscated $70,000 worth of raw, organic produce and dairy products from Rawesome, a private food club in Venice Beach, California. On August 4th, proprietor James Stewart and two farmers who work with Rawesome were “arraigned on charges of illegally making, improperly labeling and illegally selling raw milk products, as well as other charges related to Rawesome’s operations.” The “over excessive use of force, and the exuberant sums of the initial bonds drew the ire of many club members and local residents.” This was the second raid in the span of a year.
- York County Dairy’s Milk OK’d by FDA; No Bacteria Found: Raw milk from Tucker Adkins Dairy that had been implicated in a Campylobacter outbreak in North Carolina in June was found by the FDA to be free from the pathogen. “On July 16, the FDA issued a ‘foodborne outbreak’ notice associated with the raw milk from the dairy, urging people to drink pasteurized milk and dispose of any raw milk from the dairy.” According to David Gumpert, “the FDA. . . paid big bucks to a public relations service to issue a national press release–on a Saturday, no less–warning the world of dangerous raw milk coming from the Tucker Adkins dairy in South Carolina, based on three illnesses from campylobacter tied epidemiologically to the dairy. The FDA’s action was of dubious credibility from the beginning, simply because the milk in question hadn’t been distributed even regionally.”
September 10, 2011
- Pests Evolve Resistance to Monsanto’s Bt Corn: First confirmed in Iowa in July of this year, corn pests have now evolved resistance to Monsanto’s genetically engineered Bt Corn. The resistance appears to have spread to Illinois. This is not just bad news for Monsanto, it’s also bad news for organic farming and gardening, which uses the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) as an organic insecticide. Bt produces a crystal protein that is toxic to many pest insects. Monsanto’s Bt crops are engineered to produce the same protein in every cell of the plant. Once pests evolve resistance to Bt, all farmers will lose Bt as a tool.
- Food Emergency: How the World Bank and IMF Have Made African Famine Inevitable: An excellent piece on Alternet shows how the World Bank & IMF lending policies contributed to the current devastating famine in the Horn of Africa.
- It’s Raining Chemicals: Small farmer Steph Larsen tells how it feels when her neighbors spray fungicides from a crop duster plane next door.
- California Might Ban The Sale of Shark Fins: Fish expert Clare Leschin-Hoar tells how the shark fin ban that just passed the California State Senate will impact sharks – and fisherfolk – should the Governor sign it.
- Back to School and Back to School Lunch: If you are one of the many parents who are horrified at what the school serves your kids for lunch, Marion Nestle serves up an array of resources to help you take action.
- Strawberries Con Cancer, A California Specialty: California, the state that produces the vast majority of strawberries sold in the US, is still under fire for its controversial decision to legalize methyl iodide, a potent carcinogen, for use on strawberries. As it turns out, California ignored its own scientists when making this decision.
- USDA Warns Industry of Another Fake Organic Certificate from China: French certifier Ecocert alerted the National Organic Program to the circulation of the second fraudulent organic certificate produced by an uncertified operation in China this year. The USDA said that the certificate “falsely represents three food ingredient products– organic hibiscus, jasmine and beet root powder– as certified organic under National Organic Program (NOP) regulations.”
September 9, 2011
Here is some of the latest news from around the nation about the use of sewage sludge in agriculture:
- In Cottage Grove, OR, the annual disposal of sewage sludge by applying it to land stunk so bad it made news for nearly a month and provoked the creation of a group called Stop Our Stench (with the very appropriate acronym “SOS”).
- Saginaw, MI has applied sewage sludge to farmland as fertilizer for decades. However, they are now signing a new contract with Synagro that is provoking local debate. Unfortunately, news coverage fails to alert residents of the dangers of using sewage sludge as fertilizer. How can residents participate in an informed debate if local officials mislead them and the media does no better?
- Augusta County, VA is considering becoming a dumping ground for sewage sludge from as far away as Philadelphia. While some county supervisors oppose the plan, they are told they have few options to deny the permit application of Recyc Systems to dump the sludge in their county. Meanwhile, the Department of Environmental Quality is assuring Augusta County residents and politicians that toxic sludge is totally safe to spread on farmland where food is grown.
September 8, 2011
Originally posted at The Chronicle Herald on August 27, 2011.
By Murray McBride
As a soil chemist with many years of experience in conducting research on the behaviour of pollutants in soils, I am compelled to take issue with some of the assertions made by proponents of sewage sludge (biosolids) application to farms in the Aug. 4 article by Aaron Beswick. (more…)
September 7, 2011