Organic Consumers Association

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Bill Would Further Criminalize Synthetic Spiking of Organic Fertilizer

Some organic farms have unknowing used fertilizers spiked with synthetic nitrogen, and therefore, some organic shoppers, paying a premium for organic, have been duped, prompting California lawmakers to introduce a bill that more closely regulates organic fertilizer manufacturing.

Authored by Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, Assembly Bill 856, aims to increase penalties for violations of organic fertilizer standards, enhance the authority state regulators have to enforce the law and allocate more than $415,000 annually for enforcement, which will be raised by imposing additional fees on fertilizer makers. The legislation is currently on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk awaiting his signature.

The legislation is supported by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. While a state mandate, this legislation would have a rippling effect because California farms account for about 60 percent of the nation's acreage that is dedicated to the production of organic fruits, vegetables and nuts.

The tainted fertilizers were allegedly manufactured by California Liquid Fertilizer, a company operating in the Salinas area that sells to industry giants, including Earthbound Farm and Driscoll's. It's currently banned from organic farms, but from June 2004 when the state discovered the problem to January 2007 when the product was finally forced off the organic market, food grown in the fertilizer and considered organic was likely sold in supermarkets, according to Caballero's office.
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