Kenneth Noel Nelson Jr. is indicted on 28 counts of mail fraud in connection with an alleged years-long scheme to dupe farmers and agriculture product distributors.
By P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times
March 11, 2011
To organic farmers, Kenneth Noel Nelson Jr. was the man with the golden manure: It was rich with Mother Nature’s finest waste, robust for the soil and cheap in price.
But to federal prosecutors in California, Nelson’s organic fertilizer empire had developed a stench.
On Thursday a federal grand jury indicted Nelson on 28 counts of mail fraud in connection with an alleged years-long scheme to dupe farmers and agriculture product distributors. The indictment accused Nelson, 57, of selling premium-priced liquid fertilizer touted as made from all-natural products such as fish meal and bird guano that instead was spiked with far cheaper synthetic chemicals.
The scheme, according to the federal indictment, enabled Nelson to become the largest purveyor of organic fertilizer to farmers in the western half of the U.S. and pull in at least $9 million in sales from 2003 to 2009.
This is the second indictment of an organic fertilizer producer in California in the last five months. It also has fueled fears among some farmers about possible contamination of their pristine fields and has raised questions about whether consumers bought produce that was billed as organic but may not have met federal organic requirements. Many consumers who opt to pay a premium for organic goods do so because they don’t want pesticides and synthetic chemicals to be used in the production of their food.
Emerson White wrote:
What science calls organic as far as chemicals are concerned is anything that contains carbon and hydrogen. What government calls organic is anything that came from a living source.
I think government organic is an artificial distinction that makes little to no sense.
Jonathan Byron wrote:
Tilling the soil is another area where organic standards are rather lacking - organic gardeners and farmers assume that tilling is normal, natural, and acceptable. Yet it is typically quite damaging to the soil ecosystem and works against the basic aims of the organic movement.