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Would You Like A Bit Of Heavy Metal With That?

In case you missed this today (goodness knows, there is enough crazy out there to distract even the most focused of us), Biocycle Magazine and their mouthpiece, Sally Brown (they of the ‘grow food in sewage sludge – it’s good for you’) have recently called people who support the organic method ‘Ecoterrorists’.

“Sally Brown, who is also a research associate professor at the University of Washington, is delivering a keynote address at the BioCycle conference; she promotes growing food in sewage sludge “fertilizer.” John Stauber, senior adviser to the Food Rights Network and co-author of the bestselling book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!, plans to personally deliver letters to Brown and Goldstein demanding an apology and retraction.”

Now, Dr. Brown’s specialties can be found Sally Brown
She’s very hot on ‘biosolids’ (I think we can all imagine what those are – but also include such yummy choices as mine tailings. I wonder what she’d do with the ash from coal fired electrical plants. Yum yum.).

Now, let’s put aside for the moment that Dr. Brown and the magazine (which by the way is heavily involved in the sewage sludge ‘find a use and fill it’ industry) decided to go after anyone who obviously not only disagrees with the use of sewage sludge (or, ahem other ‘biosolids’), but who advocates for (gasp!) just sticking seeds and plants in regular ol’ dirt and using non chemical methods for nutrition and insect control. Actually, at Chez Siberia, we use two methods: old sheer nylon curtains over plants from the cabbage family to form a barrier to those white moths which lay icky little green eggs which turn into icky little green caterpillars. The other method is one I’ve patented – it’s called (cleverly enough) “Doing Nothing”™ That’s right – we stick the stuff in the ground, make sure it has plenty of water and then…”Do Nothing”™. Very effective. And when we harvest, we wash everything extremely well and do more ‘Nothing’™.

Couldn’t be simpler but if Sally Brown found out about me, I’m sure she’d be sending the Screaming Banshees of Academic Agriculture™ down my back any moment.

But let’s look for a moment at the whole issue of sewage sludge (have we all eaten our dinners? We’ll wait…).

Soil that you can grow things under the “Do Nothing”™ method contains all sorts of wonderful stuff, minerals, organic materials like worm shit, little chopped up bits of leaves and so on. That’s it, really. Sewage sludge is a whole different thing. “Problems associated with the agricultural use of sewage sludge include groundwater, soil, and crop contamination with pathogens, heavy metals, nitrate, and toxic and carcinogenic organic compounds.Sewage sludge is a lot more than organic human refuse. It can contain DDT, PCBs, mercury, and other heavy metals. One scientist alleges that more than 20 million gallons of used motor oil are dumped into sewers every year in the United States.” Sewage Sludge 1

Truly, this is not what we want because plants will take this stuff up.

“An interesting study on the agricultural use of sludge was done by a Mr. Purves in Scotland. He began applying sewage sludge at the rate of 60 tons per acre to a plot of land in 1971. After fifteen years of treating the soil with the sludge, he tested the vegetation grown on the plot for heavy metals. On finding that the heavy metals (lead, copper, nickel, zinc and cadmium) had been taken up by the plants, he concluded, “Contamination of soils with a wide range of potentially toxic metals following application of sewage sludge is therefore virtually irreversible.” 39 In other words, the heavy metals don’t wash out of the soil, they enter the food chain, and may contaminate not only crops, but also grazing animals.”

Hello. Dr. Brown and BioCycle put out a book literally claiming that growing food in sewage sludge is good for you. Yes, they did.

And here, literally is what Dr. Brown did recently.
“Dr. Brown’s column in the March 2011 edition of BioCycle magazine makes a false and defamatory charge calling us ‘ecoterrorists.’ The Organic Consumers Association and the Food Rights Network are proud to have led the coalition that successfully put this sewage waste disposal scam on apparently permanent hold in San Francisco. Indeed, we are expanding our efforts to warn the public at large that so-called “biosolids” and “biosolids compost” are actually sewage sludge and thus contaminated with toxic and hazardous substances.??”
Sewage Sludge Advocates Call Organic Foodies Ecoterrorists

Now, as I recall (and I’m sure you do too, dear Readers) that one of the most effective weapons used by Cheney and Bush right after 911 to shut up people who disagreed with them was to associate them with terrorists. Terrorist is a ‘booga-booga’ word – absolutely guaranteed to scared everyone into shutting up.

And the magazine and Dr. Brown used that because – there are people who think it is not such a crazy good idea to use stuff with chemicals and heavy metals in it to grow things that people put into their mouths? Really?

They should be ashamed.
(photo courtesy of Galarapid)

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Snarky housewife from Upstate New York. Into gardening, fiber arts, smallholder farming.