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Dumping Sewage Sludge On Organic Farms?

Thursday, April 30, 1998

Dumping Sewage Sludge On Organic Farms?

Why USDA Should Just Say No

View and Download the report here: Dumping Sewage Sludge on Organic Farms

In December, 1997, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed draft national standards for organic agriculture. As part of this proposal, the department invited the public to comment on the idea of allowing application of municipal sewage sludge on land used to grow organic foods.1 The Environmental Protection Agency’s top sludge regulator urged the department to allow “high quality biosolids” (i.e., sewage sludge) to be used in organic food production.2

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), a federally mandated advisory body established by the 1990 National Organic Standards Act, recommended to USDA that, in general, sewage sludge should not be allowed in organic food production. Experts within the organic food industry maintain that organic farmers extremely rarely, if ever, use sewage sludge now, and they resolutely oppose allowing its use under the final organic standards rule. The vast majority of the more than 115,000 public comments filed to date on the proposed rule explicitly object to the use of sewage sludge as a federally approved organic farming practice.

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