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Posts Tagged ‘US Farmland’

Unfit for human consumption

Posted by feww on September 11, 2008

Is the EPA selling you anything unfit for human consumption?

EPA and the Dumping of Sewage Sludge on US Farmland

Consumer groups are pressing Congress to regulate against the practice of dumping of toxic sewage sludge on our farmland. “Farmers, scientists and victims of sludge poisoning will go before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday to investigate the Environmental Protections Agency’s role in the sludge dumped on farms and other lands.” (Source)

“We have enough problems with toxic food as it is without having our food grown in toxic soil and derived from animals who have been sickened, often almost to death, because of these toxins,” said Andrew Kimbrell, the executive director of the Center for Food Safety.

What is so toxic about the sewage sludge?

A lot of toxins are found in sewage sludge including:

  • E. coli
  • Prions (the ones that cause mad cow disease)
  • Highly toxic carcinogens used in flame retardants

Are there any victims?

Yes many! Sludge poisoning has caused serious illness, even death. Victims have reported headaches, fainting spells and nose bleeds. “Contact with sewage sludge can also cause asthma, respiratory problems and tumors. There have been several instances of death linked to exposure to the sludge.”

“It’s a very pernicious cycle here of taking the poisons out of the water but putting it back into our land, and therefore back into our food and water supply,” Kimbrell said. Dumping sludge on farmland is practiced widely because it is legal under EPA rules. About 3 million tons of sewage sludge is dumped on US farmlands each year, some 50 percent of the total production.

What About the EPA?

Citing “insufficient scientific evidence to any harmful effects” EPA nixed a petition in 1983 filed by 73 food and consumer groups asking for a moratorium on sludge dumping until the health, food and environmental impacts of the practice could be assessed.

What about the Department of Agriculture, Aren’t they also responsible?

Yes, they are. Andy McElmurray whose farm was contaminated from sewage sludge successfully sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The court ruled that the EPA’s “purposely manipulated data to squash scientific dissent,” and therefore their data was unreliable.

“Bad science and bad policy has to stop, and I think Congress has had it,” Kimbrell said. “There’s a mood for change now, and here’s where we can begin to see real change.”

Let’s hope Kimbrell would not be disappointed!

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