Top Crop Manager

Sludge fertilizer raises concerns

For farmers and municipalities in Ontario, the issue of dealing with sewage sludge is becoming an ongoing battle, as environmentalists and at least one farm organization are demanding the provincial government call a halt to the practice.

October 31, 2008  By Canadian Press/London Free Press

October 31, 2008

Toronto –Ontario's food supply may become tainted by drugs and hazardous chemicals as long as sewage sludge is used as crop fertilizer, critics charged yesterday.

They're calling on the Ontario government to ban the use of sludge — a mix of household and industrial waste — at farms until its health effects is known.


"We are letting people use sludge on crop fields in Ontario while we don't know the effect on our food and we don't know the effect on our health," said NDP health critics France Gelinas.

"But there are enough red flags going up by enough people to know that somebody has to be mandated to look at this seriously and do the serious research."

Environmentalists say the issue is especially concerning in the wake of recent outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella and Listeria. And while there may not be enough research done on food grown in sludge, there have been cases that show dangers exist, they say.

In Georgia, for instance, farmers fertilizing with sewage sludge discovered the milk that their dairy cows produced was extremely high in Valium. Several major food companies, including Campbell and Del Monte, won't use food that has been fertilized by sludge, saying not enough is known about it.

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