Biosolids for Dinner

Biosolids with dinner ?!!Farmers that grow fruits and vegetables destined for sale to the public and groceries stores are required to be CanadaGAP™ certified. This means regular audits take place to ensure its food safety program is being maintained on an ongoing basis. Although many audits are performed on a regular basis, some farms are also chosen for random audits, to see if they are complying. Over-all this greatly reduces the consumers chance of eating food that has been contaminated with biosolids.

That isn’t to say the chance has been completely eliminated though. There are several growers who just grow a little more than they want and sell to their neighbour and friends. They aren’t certified, and we saw from a previous article on this site, growers who aren’t using biosolid fertilizer can become affected by air-borne particles or waterways. If you review the slide show on the previous article, you will see some examples of this. With all the product recalls the last few years because of Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella, it’s evident something is slipping through.

The N-Viro class ‘a’ fertilizer is about one-quarter the cost of regular fertilizer which can translate into thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the farm, in lowered production costs and savings. To a farm that may have had a bad year and been audited at the same time, it would be easy to assume they won’t be audited again soon. After all, this class ‘a’ fertilizer is Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) approved and there aren’t any restrictions on its use. It should be perfectly safe. The risk has a lot to do with how the N-Viro fertilizer is stored.

Miles Howe has an article “Dirty Business” which is published by the Halifax Media Co-op. In his article he says:

There’s a reason why…pathogenic bacteria are present in raw sewage. It’s because the nutrients are there that they grow on. If you were to treat the sludge with…the processes that N-Viro uses for Class A, as soon as that sludge is processed, and tested…it is safer, at that moment in time. But like that turkey taken out of the oven, give it a few days and those pathogens are going to re-grow back to their original levels. So…what was Class A at some moment in time, if you retest it, it would be back to Class B.

Class B can cause severe illness and death. Improper storage, which is also covered in Mr. Howe’s article, is illegal and worse yet, very dangerous. Class B biosolids are commonly applied with typical manure- spreading or injecting equipment to help fertilize fields for other product that aren’t used in agriculture. Since it’s very dangerous, use of it is subject to approval. In the Guideline for the Storage and Application of Biosolids by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment it says:

An application for Approval of land application and/or storage of Class B municipal biosolids must include a letter from the municipality stating that the proposed activity is in conformity with municipal by-laws as outlined in Schedule 3. Proponents must also obtain any required municipal approval, permit, or other authorization from the local municipality. Applicants must check with municipalities to identify the location(s) of source water protection areas and to determine whether or not land application and/or storage of Class B municipal biosolids is permitted in these areas.

The guidelines also show the amount of time that must pass, before the public is allowed access to these treated areas.

The guidelines also show the amount of time that must pass, before the public is allowed access to these treated areas.

In an article on this website, Farmland fertilizer: biosolids and fracking wastewater, it says this is going to get worse: ” To create the N-VIRO sludge, it is mixed with cement kiln dust from Lafarge Brookfield. The Department of Environment has authorized the disposal of more treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater in the cement kiln at Lafarge in Brookfield.”

Radium-226 has a half shelf life of 1,600 years, and as it decays it becomes Radon, which is the second largest cause of lung cancer in the world, next to smoking. Other chemicals include:

  • Methanol
  • Isoproponal
  • Ethoxylated Alcohol
  • Trisodium Nitrotriacetate
  • Sodium Persulphate
  • Diethylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether
  • Acrylamide Copolymer
  • Fatty Acid Esters
  • Terpene
  • Alcohol Alkyl Alkoxylate

It’s possible as well that some of this will end up in the class A fertilizer. If you buy from local markets rather than grocery chains, you can always ask what type of fertilizer they are using. Then, I’m sure they are well aware of the “yuck” factor associated with this type of fertilizer, so they may not tell you the truth since it is CFIA approved, and there are no restrictions on its use. They don’t have to be GreenGAP certified. A call was placed to a local vendor, the Masstown Market. The produce manager was asked if he was looking for any carrots or potatoes this year. His reply was that he had enough suppliers. Asked, for future reference… if there were any requirements for growers who sell to them and he said that he wasn’t aware of any. Asked if they only buy from certified GreenGap farms — he didn’t know.

Perhaps the conversation should have taken place at a more corporate level. For safety it could be assumed that there are standards in place similar to the Truro Farmer’s Market which states in their TFM Policies and Procedures 2015:

BIO-SOLIDS POLICY – Any produce, meat, and/or processed food ingredients grown with bio-solid fertilizer or use of bio-solid fertilizer and/or the use of bio-solid fertilizer for production in the last three years, will not be allowed for sale at the Truro Farmers’ Market. Furthermore, the Truro Farmers’ Market will not allow any promotion/sale of bio-solid fertilizer.

They must also adhere to the Department of Agriculture “Food Safety Guidelines for Public Markets” — but there isn’t any mention of being GreenGAP certified.

As previously stated, “With all the product recalls the last few years because of Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella, it’s evident something is slipping through” — it makes it hard to find out what is causing it, and where it originates from. Slipping some fracking wastewater into the biosolids being processed into fertilizer is a step further backwards. Having it stored and/or spread on land is a step backwards. What we need is to:

The rate at which people get cancer is alarming. In 1900,  1 out 20 people would get cancer.  By 1940, it was 1 out of 16 — and over the years, more and more people are getting it until today, where it is 1 out of every 3 people developing cancer in one form or another. Things have got to change.