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Organic fertilizer producer caught doping with synthetics  RSS feed

 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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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.


Linky:HT
 
maikeru sumi-e
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All the more reason on-site fertilizer and organic matter production is so important.
 
                        
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Location: sub-tropics downunder
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g'day emerson,

we don't use any fetilisers organic or otherwise.

our concern is that since the call for regulation and certification of the organic industry farmers included, it has become corrupt, simple analogy when men, money and government combine corruption follows.

the call for certification or to keep the b's honest came from the human ethic of "judging another by one's own merits".

organic had to have recognition as something that could be explained, so the science determined that organic is anything that contains carbon, that is the rule for government, as i understand it.

len
 
Emerson White
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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.
 
                        
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the gov' needed a legal definition for organic, the need arose from the call for certification to keep farmers honest. it ahs nothing to do with common sense.

len
 
                    
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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.



The purpose of the Organic Movement was to develop a set of practices and guidelines that would not destroy the soil and garden ecosystem, but rebuild it. 

One key strategy involves a focus on increasing organic matter in the soil. This is where the name of the movement comes from.

Soil organic matter is mostly semi-degraded cellulose and lignin - a.k.a. humus. It acts as a sponge for water and nutrients and is associated with higher soil fertility. It is generally an indicator for soil microbes, earthworms, and a complex soil ecosystem. Quite apart from other uses of the word 'organic,'  soil organic matter is a precise and logical term that has real meaning.

Another key strategy for the organic movement involves limiting the type of pesticides used, and the frequency of pesticide applications.

These general principles are quite sound, and (whether appreciated or not) are a general component of permaculture.

The big problem with organic standards in my opinion is that is sometimes possible to follow them to the letter, and yet to violate the basic goal of regenerating the garden ecosystem. This is not surprising because ecosystems are quite complex, while organic practitioners must typically balance short term production against long term sustainability, and human understanding of the complex systems is limited. 

Nitrogen fertilizers in particular are damaging to soil organic matter, as nitrogen is a limiting nutrient to the microbes that oxidize organic matter. Add too much nitrogen, and the soil is degraded. This is why the organic movement prohibits many concentrated sources of nitrogen - there was a reaction against the damage to soils seen after Fritz Haber developed a process for industrial fixation of nitrogen and farmers started pumping the soils with synthesized ammonia or nitrate or urea.

But even when the nitrogen is from a source approved by current organic guidelines, it can destroy soil organic matter if levels are too high.  And going to the opposite direction, if nitrogen is too low, plants grow slower and yield less. There is a rather narrow zone of nitrogen levels where the soil is not catabolized, but where plant yields are also high.

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.

The government definition of organic in relation to agriculture came from an attempt to standardize the term and enforce the standards. If anyone is allowed to call anything 'organic', then the word has no meaning. While there is occasionally tension over the standards based on different ideas of what the organic movement is about, I think the USDA has generally done a fair job of codifying organic practices. In the long run, if organic thinking changes, the standards can be updated to reflect the new thinking.

And of course, any human code has the potential for fraud. People want wholesome, unadulterated food or medicine, but there will always be someone who tries to sell something even when they know it is contaminated... regulators cannot be everywhere and test everything. People want to buy real artwork or antiques, but there will always be people trying to pull a fast one and sell forgeries. Buying a product involves trust, and for some people, greed can overcome integrity.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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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.



Hence why I try my hardest never to till if I can help it.  The amount of damage tilling does is staggering, and this was even known in the early 1900's.

J. Byron, you ever see the "tiller" Schauberger invented that has precious metals plated onto the part that goes into the soil?  His theory was that if it had to be done, the precious metals plated to the plow blade would share electrons freely with the soil and reduce the amount of damage being done. 

Sad Texas A&M took all his patents away by duping him.
 
George Lee
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Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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Let's burn him at the re-usable stake.. We'll put the ash and carbon in the soil later, along with his remnant..

 
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