Organic Consumers Association

EPA Refuses to Protect Food Supply from Sewage Sludge

December 31, 2003
CONTACT: Thomas Linzey, (717) 709-0457, or
Laura Orlando, (617) 524-7258,

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refuses to protect the food supply
from hazardous sewage sludge

EPA turns its back on protecting cows, kids, and food from toxic sludge

WASHINGTON‹On New Year¹s Eve, December 31, 2003, EPA denied a petition
requesting that the agency ban the land application of sludge. On the same
day, the agency published its review of regulations governing the use and
disposal of sewage sludge; a review prompted by criticism of EPA¹s sludge
rules by the National Research Council (NRC). In both responses, the agency
has chosen not to do what is necessary to protect the food supply, public
health, and the environment.

While mad cow disease has just come to the nation¹s attention, hundreds of
cows in Georgia were poisoned and killed by sewage sludge‹ sludge no
different than that which EPA is telling Americans it is OK to put on food
crops. In June 2003, a Georgia court ruled that land application of sewage
sludge ‹ in compliance with EPA¹s sludge rules ‹ caused the deaths of 300
prized dairy cows at the Boyce-family farm in Burke County, Georgia. In
their response to the petition the EPA denies the Georgia judicial ruling
that sludge killed the cows. Ed Hallman, who represented the Boyce family,
said, ²The fact is, it was a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on the
claims as made, and those claims are that the cows were damaged and the land
was damaged as a result of the city's application of sewage sludge."

³The EPA has once again chosen to make its controversial rulings on a
holiday in the hope that no one will notice it¹s obfuscating,² said Laura
Orlando, a spokesperson for the coalition. ³But EPA¹s dodging the ball when
no one is looking is not going to make the facts go away: cows are dying,
people are getting sick, and the food supply is being poisoned.

EPA¹s refusal to protect public health and the environment from the harm
caused by the land application of sewage sludge further demonstrates that
EPA is protecting corporate interests over public health and America¹s food
supply. EPA¹s response to the petition is unfortunately logical in that it
continues to protect multi-billion dollar corporate interests.

When mad cow disease was discovered in a single cow in Washington State, the
federal government took action within days. Here we have hundreds of dead
cows, thousands of sick people, several deaths, and a court ruling and EPA
wants to do more studies. Orlando, said, ³How many more kids and cows have
to die before EPA stops studying and starts acting to protect public health
and the environment?²

On October 7, 2003, a coalition of 73 labor, environment, and farm groups
formally petitioned the EPA to place an immediate moratorium on the land
application of sewage sludge and ultimately to prohibit the practice. The
petition to EPA offers a detailed case regarding the dangers of land
application of sewage sludge and requests this practice be prohibited.
Signatories include the United Mine Workers of America, Clean Water Action,
the Organic Consumers Association, the Center for Food Safety, Farm Aid, and
Citizens for a Future New Hampshire. Please go to
<> for the
full text of the petition and a complete list of signatories.

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