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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

 

Obama’s garden, our food, swamped in toxic sludge residue


by Larry Geller

Remember Michelle Obama’s great idea to grow a White House garden and keep it organic? She even resisted pressure from the pesticide lobby to spray their poisons on it.

Unfortunately, something happened on the way to the realization of the First Lady's good intentions. Recently the National Park Service discovered that the White House lawn, where the garden was planted, contains highly elevated levels of lead -- 93 parts per million. It's enough lead for anyone planning to have children pick vegetables in that garden or eat produce from it to reconsider their plans: lead is highly toxic to children's developing organs and brain functions -- however, it's below the 400 ppm the EPA suggests is a threat to human health. [Huffington Post, The Obama Organic Family Garden: Swimming in Sludge?, 7/1/2009]

It seems that the White House lawn was contaminated with sewage sludge, promoted as safe fertilizer.

Worse, as you’ll read when you click on the link above, much of our food supply is similarly contaminated with lead and heavy metals by an industry that just wants to get rid of its crap, nevermind that it poisons children and big people.

Ok, a bit more, to encourage you to read the entire article:

So what is sludge, really? A stinking, sticky, dark-grey to black paste, it's everything homeowners, hospitals and industries put down their toilets and drains. Every material-turned-waste that our society produces (including prescription drugs and the sweepings of slaughterhouses), and that wastewater treatment plants are capable of removing from sewage, becomes sludge. The end product is a concentrated mass of heavy metals and carcinogenic, teratogenic, and hormone-disrupting chemicals, replete with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There are some 80,000 to 90,000 industrial chemicals, including a host of dioxin-like deadly substances, which are allowed to be present in sludge under current EPA rules. What's worse, there's no way of knowing which toxic chemicals and heavy metals are entering the wastewater stream at any given time or in what concentrations. Sludge is always an unknown quantity, and therefore, assessing whether sludge is safe to use for growing food, is -- in practice -- impossible.

Farmers who care about what they grow know this, and -- despite the best efforts of government and the sludge industry -- growing food in sewage sludge is prohibited under the federal organic regulations. Still, sludge is still widely used as a cheap alternative to fertilizer, and unless you're buying organic produce, it's impossible to know if the food you eat was grown in it.

(Thanks to Viviane Lerner for pointer to this article)



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