Tag: sewage sludge

New Toxic Sludge PR and Lobbying Effort Gets Underway

- by Sara Jerving

A trade association known for using the terms “compost,” “organic,” and “biosolids” to describe sewage sludge is investing in a new public relations campaign to influence policymakers and the public. The US Composting Council (USCC), which was founded by the disposable diaper industry, will be expanding its long-standing efforts to “rebrand” sewage sludge, which is increasingly disposed of on agriculture crops and through garden centers without telling the public that their food is being grown in medical, industrial, and human waste.

Earlier this year, the USCC announced that it hired a PR firm, Colehour + Cohen, to help with the rebranding efforts and that it will also be increasing lobbying efforts. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 16, 2012

More Free Sludge! Calabasas, California Offers Free Sewage Sludge “Compost”

"Organic Biosolids Compost"

- by Rebekah Wilce

Good news! The sewage treatment plant in Calabasas, California has been giving away free sludge! Free sludge, you say? That potent stew of human and industrial sewage sludge laced with flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceutical residues, phthalates, industrial solvents, resistant pathogens, and perfluorinated compounds? “Composted” sludge, which can bioaccumulate in plants grown in sludge-contaminated soil? Oh, goodie. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 6, 2012

Would You “Like” Sewage Sludge on Facebook

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…)

4 Comments September 12, 2011

ALEC Exposed: Protecting Factory Farms and Sewage Sludge?

by Jill Richardson
Originally posted on PRWatch.org

As suburbs engulfed the rural landscape in the boom following World War II, many family farmers found themselves with new neighbors who were annoyed by the sound of crowing roosters, the smell of animal manure, or the rumble of farming equipment. In defense of family farming, Massachusetts passed the first “Right to Farm” law in 1979, to protect these farmers against their new suburban neighbors filing illegitimate nuisance lawsuits against them when, in fact, the farms were there first. Since then, every state has passed some kind of protection for family farms, which are pillars of our communities and the backbone of a sensible system of sustainable agriculture.

However, in the past few decades, intensive corporatization of farming has threatened both the future of family farming and the ability of neighbors to regulate the development of industrial agricultural operations that have transmogrified many farms into factories. Small-scale farms that resembled Old MacDonald’s farm (with an oink oink here and a moo moo there) have increasingly disappeared or been turned into enormous livestock confinements with literal lagoons of liquified manure and urine, super-concentrated smells that could make a skunk faint, or vast fields of monoculture crops grown with a myriad of chemicals and pesticides and sometimes even sewage sludge. For example, the decade before the first right to farm law was passed, it took one million family farms to raise nearly 60 million pigs but by 2001, less than ten percent (80,000 farms) were growing the same number of pigs. (more…)

Leave a Comment August 4, 2011

Thousands Ask Norman Lear’s Environmental Media Association To Cut Ties With Sewage Sludge Company

The Food Rights Network asked people to join in calling on the Environmental Media Association (EMA) to stop greenwashing sewage sludge, and Joan Dye Gussow, best-selling author of This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, signed her name. But it doesn’t take one of the nation’s most famous organic gardening experts to know that using toxic sewage sludge to grow food is a bad idea: 12,000 people signed in agreement! (more…)

Leave a Comment July 7, 2011

Why Is The Monterey Bay Aquarium Greenwashing Sewage Sludge?

Today, the nation’s major sustainable food writers and bloggers will converge on Monterey, California for an incredible, invitation-only sustainable food conference. The event, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions, which those who attend say is spectacular, has a new sponsor this year: Kellogg Garden Products. Yes, that Kellogg Garden Products. The very same company that has contaminated “organic” school gardens in Los Angeles with sewage sludge. The company’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kathy Kellogg Johnson, has a knack for befriending “green” organizations and using them to promote her toxic, misleadingly-labeled products to unsuspecting gardeners. In this case, she’s listed as a “Silver Sponsor.” How much did her company pay to give her such a nice platform, sitting on a panel with Grist’s sustainable food writer, Tom Philpott, and telling an all-media audience about the sustainability of Kellogg Garden Products?

Last week, I wrote to Monterey Bay Aquarium, informing them that Kellogg Garden Products sells compost made with sewage sludge, with the slogan “Quality organics since 1925″ on the label. After a few brief replies and a little prodding, here is the reply I received from Alison Barratt on Friday, May 13:

Dear Jill,

We were not actually aware of these allegations until you raised them. We met Kellogg at the EMA awards last year, and know that EMA vets all of its associates very carefully. They were independently invited to be a sponsor and speaker at the event. We do not offer a place on our panels to sponsors; we look for speakers with an interesting story to tell, and we believe this is an interesting story.

Having spoken at length with Kellogg yesterday regarding your allegations, we are perfectly comfortable with our decision to invite Kathy Kellogg Johnson to the event, and to have them as a sponsor.

Our event is about highlighting good work that companies and individuals are doing and no company will ever claim to be perfect, or totally sustainable, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have something unique to share, or valuable to our audience. This event is not about marketing companies or products, it’s about education and taking us towards solutions.

I am afraid on this issue we will have to agree to disagree and respectfully decline your request to attend.

Kind regards,


It’s a good thing I was not drinking anything when I read this, because I would have certainly spit it out. She checked the facts by asking Kathy Kellogg Johnson? Why not also go ask BP if it is safe for them to drill in the Gulf? This shows the value of Kellogg’s sponsorship of the Environmental Media Association (EMA), as even a champion of sustainability like the Monterey Bay Aquarium did not question whether EMA’s sponsors were truly sustainable or not.

Here is my reply:

Hello Alison,

It’s interesting you bring up the EMA and how they vet their associates carefully. Actually, unfortunately, that is not the case. Please see this signed, notarized affidavit from the L.A. school district’s garden advisor who worked with the EMA on their garden program, which Kellogg sponsored, exposing the lies of Debbie Levin, EMA President, about Kellogg and sewage sludge. You can find the whole story here.

I am attaching test results (pdf) that show findings of 65.97 toxicity equivalents (TEQ) of dioxins and furans in Kellogg’s product Amend. Unfortunately, this is legal. Despite urging from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the EPA has declined to regulate dioxins in sewage sludge. (More info here). Kellogg Amend identifies its ingredients as “Blended and screened forest products, composted rice hulls, compost, poultry manure, gypsum.” It does not identify its contents as sewage sludge. Yet it is well documented that the product DOES contain sewage sludge. Several gardeners I know personally have purchased and used Amend and other Kellogg products made with sludge, thinking they were organic. When they found out they had in fact used sewage sludge, which is NOT organic, in their gardens, and quite possibly exposed themselves to dioxins in the process, they were extremely upset. This is very deceptive on the part of Kellogg, to sell a toxic product that so misrepresents itself to consumers.


I’ve received no reply from Alison, or from anyone else at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Now, I understand why Kellogg wants to hoodwink us all into buying their products. And boy howdy, do they try! Check out this video about Kellogg’s Amend from Kellogg’s website, and compare it to this video, in which activist John Stauber tells the truth about Kellogg’s Amend. But why is the Monterey Bay Aquarium letting them?

In my years as a sustainable food advocate, I’ve always relied on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program for sound science and unwavering dedication to saving our oceans. It is precisely because Monterey Bay Aquarium is so good that its inclusion of Kellogg in its program is so dangerous. There are plenty of sold-out environmental organizations out there who partner with all kinds of unethical corporations, but who would think to question the Monterey Bay Aquarium? With their long and wonderful history of providing trustworthy sustainable seafood recommendations, why would anyone expect them to feature anyone but the best at their sustainable food event?

I expect and hope that the journalists present will be more on top of things than the aquarium, and I plan to follow the conference via Twitter (#CFS11). I’ll be tweeting at @FoodRightsNtwrk, and I look forward to seeing what those in attendance have to say, including: Paula Crossfield (@civileater), Clare Leschin-Hoar (@c_leschin), Tom Laskawy (@tlaskawy), Bonnie Powell (@ethicurean), Tom Philpott (@tomphilpott), and Barry Estabrook (@Barry_Estabrook). And you can follow the aquarium as well: Seafood Watch (@SeafoodWatch), Monterey Bay Aquarium (MontereyAq), and Communications Director Ken Peterson (@aquaken).


Update: Kathy Kellogg Johnson will be speaking live at 2:45 p.m., PDT on May 20, 2011 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions conference, but at the by-invitation-only, all-media portion of the conference that’s not open to the public. However, her session will be live-tweeted, so people can follow on Twitter using the hashtag #cfs11. Jill plans to be there and ask plenty of questions!

Leave a Comment May 20, 2011


Sludge Pushers Attack Organic Food Advocates

SAN DIEGO–Leading organic gardening and food safety advocates who oppose  growing food in sewage sludge are attending the national BioCycle magazine conference Tuesday, April 12, 2011 in San Diego to demand an apology and retraction from Sally Brown, a columnist and editorial board member of BioCycle magazine, and from Nora Goldstein, the executive editor of BioCycle. (more…)

32 Comments April 11, 2011

Toxic Contaminants Found in Sludge “Compost”

PBDE Flame Retardants and Triclosan Found in Tests Conducted for the Food Rights Network

This news release was written by the Food Rights Network and published via PRNewsire August 10, 2010. FRN provided test results to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commissioners at a City Hall Meeting, 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 10, 2010.

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 10 — Independent tests of sewage sludge-derived compost from the Synagro CVC plant — distributed free to gardeners since 2007 by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission in their “organic biosolids compost” giveaway program — have found appreciable concentrations of contaminants with endocrine-disruptive properties. (more…)

Leave a Comment April 8, 2011

Chez Sludge: How the Sewage Sludge Industry Bedded Alice Waters

This report by Food Rights Network consultant John Stauber appeared on the Center for Media and Democracy website July 9, 2010:

The celebrity chef Alice Waters is probably the world’s most famous advocate of growing and eating local, Organic food. In February 2010 her Chez Panisse Foundation chose as its new Executive Director the wealthy “green socialite” and liberal political activist Francesca Vietor. Vietor’s hiring created a serious conflict of interest that has married Waters and her Foundation to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and its scam of disposing of toxic sewage sludge waste as free “organic biosolids compost” for gardens. (more…)

1 Comment April 8, 2011



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