Contaminated vegetables: who's to blame?

The Observer, June 29, 2008
Who is responsible for the dispersal of contaminated manure?
plant.jpg
Example of unhealthy tomato leaves curling inwards, affected by contaminated manure. Photograph: Katherine Rose
Gardeners who have unwittingly poisoned their own vegetables by applying manure contaminated with a powerful new herbicide are incensed – and rightly so.
Seeing months of hard work result in deformed and withered produce must be heartbreaking. But this is the picture on allotments and vegetable plots across the UK because manure containing the hormone-based herbicide aminopyralid has been sold to grow-your-own enthusiasts.
It is something that should never have happened. The herbicide – introduced just two years ago by Dow AgroSciences Ltd and found in several of its products – is not approved to be used on food crops.
It carries a warning to that effect on its label. There are warnings, too, about ensuring manure from livestock which has grazed or been fed grass treated with the weedkiller does not find its way onto gardens.
But, as affected gardeners view their distorted potatoes, tomatoes, beans and peas and wonder if their other vegetables are safe to eat, it is clear something has gone badly wrong. And now they are looking for someone to blame.
Should the finger be pointed at Dow AgroSciences? While admitting some of the manure can be linked back to their products, the company says it is by no means clear that all the episodes of contamination now being reported are as a result of aminopyralid.
They have broken no rules. Nevertheless, they acknowledge it is “undoubtedly’ a problem. To help, they have set up an online hotline and posted an information page on their website which advises concerned people to email them at UKHotline@dow.com.
They are also now planning a publicity campaign to drive home the message to farmers that they must handle these products with utmost care, and to warn gardeners they must check the provenance of any manure they buy.
Should the farmer who sold the manure be held responsible? That is not an easy one. In some cases the farmer had not sprayed his grassland at all and behaved completely responsibly, but still the manure was contaminated. One explanation could be that the farmer bought in silage off other farmers to feed livestock – and one of them had been sprayed. Or, perhaps, it came from a horse fed hay bought from a hay merchant, who bought from several farmers. Tracing back the chain becomes horribly complicated.
Should the product be banned? Certainly that’s the opinion of some gardeners I spoke to for the story in today’s Observer. Or will strengthening the label warning be enough to prevent the problem escalating? These are just some of the questions currently being debated in the gardening community.


Comments
EvilClanger
Comment No. 1192140
June 28 22:05This goes to show that we really do reap what we sow in the food chain and the environment. Put something nasty into a system and somewhere along the line something nasty will come back out, in this case in the manure.
Very harsh on those who thought that they were avoiding precisely this sort of thing.
Veganic gardening (which excludes slaughterhouse and animal waste products) and attempting as much self-sufficiency as you can are ways forward that reduce the dangers of this. That’s not one compost bin but the full Monty (Don)-a row of them, together with green manures and your own comfrey production.
If the product that Dow are producing is this much of a problem as a residual, then IMHO it should be withdrawn and banned. The risk factors from residual damage are just too great. It is clearly getting into the environment as a residual in a condition that causes environmental damage.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. rabblerouser
Comment No. 1192384
June 29 5:13Of course this is a disgrace. But really, is anyone surprised?
The challenges that we are collectivley facing in the world (energy ‘crisis’, global economic depression, continued environmental degredation, the fear sponsored illiberal agenda, and so much more) are neither inevitable or insurmountable.
That is to say they are happening – but we can stop them.
To do so requires an understanding of their origin. The challenges we face are not unrelated or accidental. And please, hear me out.
It is patently obvious to any rational and observant individual that our economic and political systems are (and by ‘our’ I mean globally, as the same challenges and threats are apparent in most Nation States) not serving ‘we the people’.
The EU and it’s unaccountable bureacracy has been forced down the necks of each Nation time and again. When the Brits, Danes, or Irish are asked to bless the loss of Sovereignty – and don’t… they are asked until they do… or they stop asking and plough on regardless. What happened to representative democracy? The concept that our public servants were just that – servants of us, the public. When did we allow our representatives to become our rulers? Did we not work this one out a few hundred years ago?
The American’s thought they had, yet take a hop over the pond and see the same thing occuring there. The (rightly) much vaunted Constitution is, in effect, in tatters. That the papers laying the foundation of a North American Union have been signed by the presidents of Mexico and the USA and the former PM of Candada remains a mystery to most. That a new currency ‘the Amero’ is also envisioned, makes the Federal Reserve Bank’s actions to run the USD into the ground even more suspicious.
In Europe, as in N America, our rights to enjoy the health benefits of Vitamin supplements, herbs, and Anthroposophical wisdom are all under threat.
The point is – and let me be concise rather than labour this argument any further (if you are still with me I thank you – and remind you that we are supposed to be discussing who’s to blame for poisoned food!).
We are to blame. You and me. Why? Because we know better. Because the writing is on the wall, and if we ignore it we do so at our peril.
The challenges we face collectivley are offering us the opportunity to unite at both the grass roots and globally to overcome the ‘old order’ who so derire a “New World Order”. It is time for us to reclaim our power – through the power of thought and intention and right action. Now is a time to Act, or, to Re-Act. It is not a time for inaction.
Aldous Huxley said in his later years that his dystopian predictions of a ‘Brave New World’ seemed to be encroching ever nearer, and that the only solution was effective grass roots action – he lamented that such action did not seem to occuring.
Today I look around and feel much more positive and enlivened that he must have. We can change the world for the better, indeed we are. What issues like this one concerning toxic manure present us with, is an opportunity to take positive action. Be it petitioning your MP or finding unpoluted land to re-plant on or leading a protest to close down the production and distribution of such toxic chemicals in your country or town.
…do something!
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. rabblerouser
Comment No. 1192385
June 29 5:15Of course this is a disgrace. But really, is anyone surprised?
The challenges that we are collectivley facing in the world (energy ‘crisis’, global economic depression, continued environmental degredation, the fear sponsored illiberal agenda, and so much more) are neither inevitable or insurmountable.
That is to say they are happening – but we can stop them.
To do so requires an understanding of their origin. The challenges we face are not unrelated or accidental. And please, hear me out.
It is patently obvious to any rational and observant individual that our economic and political systems are (and by ‘our’ I mean globally, as the same challenges and threats are apparent in most Nation States) not serving ‘we the people’.
The EU and it’s unaccountable bureacracy has been forced down the necks of each Nation time and again. When the Brits, Danes, or Irish are asked to bless the loss of Sovereignty – and don’t… they are asked until they do… or they stop asking and plough on regardless. What happened to representative democracy? The concept that our public servants were just that – servants of us, the public. When did we allow our representatives to become our rulers? Did we not work this one out a few hundred years ago?
The American’s thought they had, yet take a hop over the pond and see the same thing occuring there. The (rightly) much vaunted Constitution is, in effect, in tatters. That the papers laying the foundation of a North American Union have been signed by the presidents of Mexico and the USA and the former PM of Candada remains a mystery to most. That a new currency ‘the Amero’ is also envisioned, makes the Federal Reserve Bank’s actions to run the USD into the ground even more suspicious.
In Europe, as in N America, our rights to enjoy the health benefits of Vitamin supplements, herbs, and Anthroposophical wisdom are all under threat.
The point is – and let me be concise rather than labour this argument any further (if you are still with me I thank you – and remind you that we are supposed to be discussing who’s to blame for poisoned food!).
We are to blame. You and me. Why? Because we know better. Because the writing is on the wall, and if we ignore it we do so at our peril.
The challenges we face collectivley are offering us the opportunity to unite at both the grass roots and globally to overcome the ‘old order’ who so derire a “New World Order”. It is time for us to reclaim our power – through the power of thought and intention and right action. Now is a time to Act, or, to Re-Act. It is not a time for inaction.
Aldous Huxley said in his later years that his dystopian predictions of a ‘Brave New World’ seemed to be encroching ever nearer, and that the only solution was effective grass roots action – he lamented that such action did not seem to occuring.
Today I look around and feel much more positive and enlivened that he must have. We can change the world for the better, indeed we are. What issues like this one concerning toxic manure present us with, is an opportunity to take positive action. Be it petitioning your MP or finding unpoluted land to re-plant on or leading a protest to close down the production and distribution of such toxic chemicals in your country or town.
…do something!
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. JacNZ
Comment No. 1192391
June 29 6:04This should be a warning to all who think they can answer the worlds food problems industrially. For they (DOW) are the very people who are lobbying to get us to plant genetically modifioed crops, so we have to spray more of their products on our soils.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. icurahuman2
Comment No. 1192398
June 29 6:44Oh ye of too much faith! If you use any kind of herbicide or insecticide you are flirting with danger. Try typing glyphosate and cancer into your web search engine and see what comes up. What you will find is a lot of evidence that RoundUp ,which is really glyphosate, is tied to non-Hogkins lymphoma, the fastest rising cancer in the world. So there you have it in a nutshell, the chemical companies, who sell tens of thousands of chemical products do not test there products very well for effects on humans, or anything else for that matter as it appears that RoundUp destroys subsoil bacteria as well, along with everything up to birds that eat worms from contaminated soil. What makes you think that this chemical is any different? When you think of herbicides and insecticides all you have to do is think, homicide, suicide, patricide, matricide and infanticide and you’ll get a much better idea of what you are putting in your mouth. Oh, by the way, how are the cattle doing that consumed the contaminated grass and silage? Have you eaten any of it lately? Good luck with all of that! Dummies!
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. festina
Comment No. 1192437
June 29 8:35yes icurahuman 2,
not suitable for human consumption but, fed to animals bred for human consumption,
strange practice.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. Nicoise
Comment No. 1192452
June 29 9:05Confirmation, as if it was needed, that our food chain is still broken, that DEFRA and government is guilty of incompetence and political compromises and that this will not change without radical public protest. So take-up your manure and rotten vegetables and head to your local MP’s summer residence and ensure that they are at least put to a good use and thoroughly re-cycled.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. diddlyoompah
Comment No. 1192519
June 29 10:47Um… Isn’t this the company that bought Union Carbide, the firm that, in December 1984 poisoned and killed 3,800 people in Bhopal, and maimed another 100,000 or so?
Google Bhopal if you didn’t know about it.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. madmustelid
Comment No. 1192531
June 29 10:55It is clear now, if it wasn’t earlier, that there is a plain risk of damage caused by the release of this product.
Therefore, anyone from now on selling or using it would seem to be putting themselves at risk of charges of criminal negligence should this happen again. Penalties should include compensation for lost crops and punitive damages for the careless nature of the continuation of supply, particularly in the face of unknown hazards to human health.
Dow, are you listening? Class action, anyone?
Of course, we can’t expect DEFRA, the FSA, or any other Government Agency to take up the cudgel (or even a rolled-up newspaper) – the agrochemical industry is too good source of funds and future patronage, while our elected representatives are too absorbed with the mirage of “terrorist threats” to be concerned with real and present dangers to actual people.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. demeter
Comment No. 1192548
June 29 11:08I’m one of the affected growers. My crops this year are ruined and probably next year too going by the experience of other growers hit last year. I’ve lost money and crops and no-one will come clean and say, yes or no, that any fruit or veg I manage to produce are safe to eat.
The manufacturer of the weedkiller alleged to be causing the problem applied for a licence in New York State. They were forced to withdraw the licence application because the licensing authority rejected the data submitted in support of the application on the environmental fate of the product and the extreme variation in half-lives under different soil conditions. Was DEFRA satisfied with the data rejected by the New York State authorities?
There is a fundamental flaw in the process whereby use of the weedkiller is controlled. Commercial growers who spray their fields are obliged to notify their customers that spraying has taken place. But those customers are not the persons supplying the affected amateur growers. Amateur growers are at the end of the supply chain and may be 5 or 6 times removed from the original supplier. It is clear from the scale of the problem that the sprayed warning is not accompanying the sprayed product down the supply chain.
And from my own experience, it is virtually impossible to trace the source of the contamination from over a year ago from a stables that has multiple sources of bedding and feed. So I have no redress. It’s scandalous.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. glallotments
Comment No. 1192580
June 29 11:35If you are interested in reading about our experience with lots of photos of what affected crops look like then you could visit our webpage
http://www.glallotments.btik.com/p_Contaminated_Manure.ikml
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. alice2008
Comment No. 1192602
June 29 11:58I am using compost and grow bags containing “soil improvers” and “nutrimate”Does anyone know if there is a possibility that such products might have been contaminated,thus explaining my sickly tomatoes?
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. demeter
Comment No. 1192627
June 29 12:13Alice, the growth pattern of affected plants is very distinctive and is only caused by this weedkiller. The tomato photograph at the head of this blog shows the growth pattern very clearly. If yours don’t look like that, you don’t have this problem and need to look elsewhere for an answer. You could join a gardening or allotment forum, post a photograph and ask for advice.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. maggib1943
Comment No. 1192719
June 29 14:04About 3 years ago, my tomatoes, growing in a pot, developed symptoms of hormone weedkiller damage. Exactly as described in this article. As I’m a committed organic gardener, working in the business for many years, this was not possible. I sent samples of the plants to the RHs who confirmed my suspicions.
No one around me had vegetable gardens. The only way the tomatoes could have been contaminated was through manure that I had added to my compost heap 12 months earlier. It came from a barn where calves had been reared, from a local farm. At the time I found the idea rather far-fetched, but it was the only possible route. Now I have confirmation.
But how can we ordinary gardeners guard against these powerful chemicals? They must be swirling around all the time – it makes those lovely leisurely country walks far less appealing……
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. Herbali
Comment No. 1192758
June 29 14:47We are a small co-operative and were delighted to have our first poly-tunnel, in which we built raised beds, and dug in plenty of what we thought was good quality manure. We have watched in horror as our tomatoes and aubergines curled up and died – we’re now faced with digging out the whole tunnel before we can grow anything next year. In addition, I’m a herbalist and had top-dressed some valuable medicinal herbs which I’d raised from seed for three years. To destroy these not only loses me a lot of money, but means I have to wait for another three years to get some more plants mature enough to use.
It seems clear that we’re far from the only people affected, and market gardeners stand to lose much more than we do. Individual farmers who’ve used this stuff on their hay crops cannot be held to blame – unless the warnings are really clear and in big bold lettering, they’re unlikely to realise that this chemical is any different from all the others they’ve used over the years.
Dow must be held completely liable – they must have known that this herbicide would be used on crops which could get into the food chain. They should be held accountable, and made to open a full-scale investigation. We need to know if our crops are safe to eat, not just now but over the next few years. We need to know what are the likely effects on us of food we have already eaten before we knew about this. What about anyone who is pregnant? What are the likely effects on unborn children?
I applaud the Observer for reporting on this, and ask the paper to launch a full-scale investigation on behalf of your readers who are trying to produce our own food. Hold Dow to account, and don’t rest until all our questions are answered.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. snick
Comment No. 1192769
June 29 14:57Our community gardening program is very strict on what we can bring into the plots, but it is clear that policy is not so easily enforced. How can one know for certain that manure or even compost is “clean”? Apart from using one’s own composted garden waste, unless you have access to manure of known origin, the corporate profiteers at Dow and MonSatan will insinuate their products into the ecosystem. What I wouldn’t give to put their ilk out of business! We don’t need them.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. gazpacho
Comment No. 1192831
June 29 15:49Great article and comments.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. glallotments
Comment No. 1192861
June 29 16:10Someone conatcing our website suspects a bag of compost bought for an internet supplier. When investigating the supplier said the main component in the compost was grass!!
PDS told us that our manure may have been affected by herbicide sprayed in 2006.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. glallotments
Comment No. 1192870
June 29 16:16The manufacturers warnings are bold and clear (if you read them it seems incredible that anyone actually buys the stuff!)but it seems that information gets lost in the chain of supply. The person who applies the chemical can’t miss the warnings.
http://www.dowagro.com/PublishedLiterature/dh_00c1/0901b803800c1a23.pdf?filepath=/uk/pdfs/noreg/011-01477.pdf&fromPage=GetDoc
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. demeter
Comment No. 1192903
June 29 16:41In investigating this for our allotments, I’ve been in touch with another site that was first affected in 2007 and their crops are still damaged this year by the initial application of contaminated manure.
I’ve heard, but not personally verified, that local council compost is to be avoided because Parks and Gardens Depts use this stuff and the grass cuttings are composted.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. gardener1
Comment No. 1192929
June 29 17:05Thankyou Observer for your article- my potatoes are affected, and we went straight up to the farm where we got the manure! The farmer looked at the spray he had used and sure enough…
So where do we go from here? How can we make sure this stuff is banned? Obviously people supplying manure are not complying with the recommendations on the pesticide tin.
Incidentally, I live in Scotland- I notice your article only mentioned England and Wales.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. gardener1
Comment No. 1192931
June 29 17:05Thankyou Observer for your article- my potatoes are affected, and we went straight up to the farm where we got the manure! The farmer looked at the spray he had used and sure enough…
So where do we go from here? How can we make sure this stuff is banned? Obviously people supplying manure are not complying with the recommendations on the pesticide tin.
Incidentally, I live in Scotland- I notice your article only mentioned England and Wales.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. gardener1
Comment No. 1192932
June 29 17:05Thankyou Observer for your article- my potatoes are affected, and we went straight up to the farm where we got the manure! The farmer looked at the spray he had used and sure enough…
So where do we go from here? How can we make sure this stuff is banned? Obviously people supplying manure are not complying with the recommendations on the pesticide tin.
Incidentally, I live in Scotland- I notice your article only mentioned England and Wales.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. gardener1
Comment No. 1192943
June 29 17:15Thankyou Observer for your article- my potatoes are affected, and we went straight up to the farm where we got the manure! The farmer looked at the spray he had used and sure enough…
So where do we go from here? How can we make sure this stuff is banned? Obviously people supplying manure are not complying with the recommendations on the pesticide tin.
Incidentally, I live in Scotland- I notice your article only mentioned England and Wales.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. gardener1
Comment No. 1192944
June 29 17:16Thankyou Observer for your article- my potatoes are affected, and we went straight up to the farm where we got the manure! The farmer looked at the spray he had used and sure enough…
So where do we go from here? How can we make sure this stuff is banned? Obviously people supplying manure are not complying with the recommendations on the pesticide tin.
Incidentally, I live in Scotland- I notice your article only mentioned England and Wales.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. gardener1
Comment No. 1192945
June 29 17:16Thankyou Observer for your article- my potatoes are affected, and we went straight up to the farm where we got the manure! The farmer looked at the spray he had used and sure enough…
So where do we go from here? How can we make sure this stuff is banned? Obviously people supplying manure are not complying with the recommendations on the pesticide tin.
Incidentally, I live in Scotland- I notice your article only mentioned England and Wales.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. maggib1943
Comment No. 1193046
June 29 19:35Composted green waste from the Council SHOULD be free of this herbicide. I’ve been using this material for a long time with no ill effects. The problem is, that anyone can tip any sort of green waste into the bins at the recycling centre, so all sorts of nasties can end up there. But only amateur gardeners can use these areas so in theory such heavy duty products won’t enter the waste stream this way.
The contractors who compost green waste material should have test data regarding pathogens – but I doubt that they will test for a herbicide at this level.
Pandora’s box has been well and truly opened.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. flagrant
Comment No. 1193075
June 29 20:44As regards pesticides of any description, they have all, over time, been shown to be dangerous despite what the manufacturers say. The latest batch of agri chemicals will over time be shown to be far more harmful than the chemical corporations say. I remember in my anti gm crop trashing days , attending a meeting with a representative from Monsanto who claimed that Glyphosate was no more dangerous than table salt. When challenged to drink the equalivalent of half a teaspoon of his poison he declined. The manufacturers of these chemicals are all highly intelligent chemists, the labels they by law have to put on their products state the many dangers associated with the normal application of the chemicals. However profit and career advancement matters more to them than being good and improving the world. They wrap their profiteering up in spin about “feeding the world”, and say that to challenge their methods is imorral and sentacing people to starvation. They dwell in a world of greed, if they were intent on doing real good they would divert their £.millions into developing a better understanding of soils, and doing some sensible sustainable plant breeding that works in tune with nature, rather than providing more money for their fat cat overlords.
The solution? Well we basically need a revolution. One that takes power from the corporations and gives it back to governments. In tandem with this we need a propper system of accountability within government. When Britain was asked for its opinion on the GM debate we stated clearly, as a nation that we were against it in all forms. Our democratic? government is letting GMO’s through the back door as we speak.
As individuals all we can do is turn our backs on our corporate would be masters, they do us no favours. Ignore their adverts, ignore their products, try to source all products locally, directly from the producer, change our economy from one that gives profit to big business, to one that provides a living for our neighbours. None of this helps those with poisoned veg patches, but it would be a start.
We dont need the corporate green “revolutions”, start our own green revolution, then maybe humans and nature can go back to living in harmony with one another again.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. CeeMe
Comment No. 1193079
June 29 20:52While not immediately affected by the release of this toxic chemical, as someone who buys and grows organic food, I’m horrified the Dow is allowed to sell this chemical in Britain. Since its movement through the food chain cannot be controlled, it should be banned immediately, no ifs, ands, or buts.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. LeonC
Comment No. 1193080
June 29 20:54When I read this article about tainted soil the word Bhopal immediately came to mind.
The contamination of gardens and allotments of the UK is so disgusting that someone/s at Dow UK should publicly and very visible fall on their sword/s.
And Mr Brown, don’t even think the GM word! Or any other PM that wants to go GM for that matter!
Dow, Monsanto, they are all the same, they seem to have no moral or ethical responsibility for their actions when they go wrong. All they can think of doing is side stepping and PRing.
If we live in a really civilized society real accountability has to be seen to be done.
LeonC
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. Rebsie
Comment No. 1193101
June 29 21:55An immediate voluntary withdrawal is called for, with a follow-up total ban ASAP. But prepare to watch Dow squirm in every conceivable direction to avoid accepting liability. As others have said, it is a scandal.
As a breeder of vegetables who has mercifully escaped any damage for the moment (though I do use manure) I find it heartbreaking to see people losing the crops they’ve lovingly raised. Things grown in gardens and allotments have an emotional investment in them and are way more than just ‘produce’. Some of us grow heirloom varieties which are irreplaceable.
Dow are morally responsible, and their board should be paraded through the streets in shame and have their bottoms thrashed with stingy-nettles until they promise to make amends for their loathsome product.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. Kepler
Comment No. 1193328
June 29 23:44Going back to the original question: who’s to blame?
The USSR government.
Duh!
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. Kepler
Comment No. 1193329
June 29 23:45Going back to the original question: who’s to blame?
The USSR government.
Duh!
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. RudyRude
Comment No. 1193357
June 29 23:58We have a field, which a contractor sprays once a year to rid it of the weeds (some of which are toxic to stock) that would otherwise overwhelm it, or overwhelm us in trying to remove them by hand. Last year, he told us that the new stuff he was using was much more effective – we soon noticed that indeed it was. We’ve put our sheep’s muck, and that of a friend’s pony who also lives there, on a muck-heap for some time, and then let it rot it down. The muck heap then goes into the soil where we grow tomatoes in the greenhouse. The hay we feed the sheep on in the winter has probably also been sprayed with the same stuff. Funny, we thought it was all rather sustainable.
This year, we could not figure out why our tomatoes have curled and clubbed leaves, and are so thin and weedy. Everything else in our veg garden is fed by “heap” compost, and is fine. No-one seems to know – most years, we have a glut, and the plants by now would be in full flowering glory.
I chanced across the article in today’s paper, and on went a light in my head. We can’t blame our contractor for not passing on the most unlikely of warnings, dependent upon an unlikely chain of events even if he knew what we did with the muck, no doubt hidden at the foot of some closely-typed user instructions.
The funny thing was, this week we watched the film Michael Clayton on DVD. It’s about a lawyer who gets sick of defending a corrupt agri-chemical giant that buried evidence that its fertiliser caused cancer in farmers. And no, we won’t be eating the few tomatoes that the plants have produced. And have you ever tried rotorvating a greenhouse, as Dow suggest we do to break the stuff down?
Yes, I’d be up for a class action, but my money’s on Dow to shift the blame onto the contractors, farmers and hay merchants for failing to heed the printed warnings, and escape liability that way.
“As ye sow, so shall ye reap”… ha!
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. RudyRude
Comment No. 1193371
June 30 0:04Oh, heck, we eat the sheep as well. And the eggs from the hens that we keep that roam the fields.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. trewyth
Comment No. 1193691
June 30 7:20Well said, Rabblerouser! (2nd posting). I urge everyone to read this and then go on to do your own research into what is really happening in the world. Unfortunately the nearest any comment like this gets to the mainstream media is in a blog such as this. The MSM is actually part of the problem!
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. rosyglow
Comment No. 1193702
June 30 7:40No story has angered me as much as this one. That these people who have ‘farmed’ according to their conscience, spending money and time and all that hard work to grow some of their food should be cheated like this is nothing short of tragic. However, don’t expect Dow to take any responsibility, they’ll wiggle out of it.
Apart from the residue of chemicals getting into the food chain people have to make the stuff; what sort of long-term problems might they encounter?
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. leglise
Comment No. 1193707
June 30 7:48does anyone use a lawn care company to de weed the lawn?…..and what do you do with the compost?
I will check with mine today!
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. frog2
Comment No. 1193745
June 30 8:36AMINO PYRA LID
I cut the word in three to make it more memorisable… when I transmitted to gardening friends here in france. Our government has a pesticides observatory site, with “aminopyralid” on it, , now need Excel to read …
Spread the word, everybody .
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. Terran
Comment No. 1193757
June 30 8:47These might be possible avenues to explore with respect to mitigating exposure to agricultural or other chemicals.
Mycoremediation
http://www.fungi.com/mycotech/mycova.html
Bioremediation With Effective Microorganisms
http://www.emamerica.com//index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=137&Itemid=199
http://www.go-emco.co.jp/en/agents/
I am not an agent of, or affiliated with either of these companies.
Terran
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. bigshod
Comment No. 1193776
June 30 9:03Action is certainly required. If a product such as this is so persistent that it can last for up to two years in waste and is virtually untraceable to source and undetectable until it is too late, users of manure can no longer rely on their traditional source of soil enrichment. In the West Midlands area of north Birmingham, Walsall and Sandwell there have been many allotment sites affected by manure from a usually reliable source, but this year crop failure has been widespread due to poisoning from herbicide residues.
Official bodies such as DEFRA and the Pesticide Safety Directorate, as we have found from our contacts with them, sit on their hands. We have been advised to contact our local Environmental Health Ofice. We have, with varying degrees of success, but they have not the resources to investigate the matter properly.
We need a coordinated attack on this problem, first to establish the size of the problem, then to campaign to raise public awareness and finally to push whoever we can to get this poison isolated and even banned. One of our gardening umbrella groups may take this on? RHS, Garden Organic, NSALG? Could Prince Charles be Patron of our cause?
Is it true that we are the first European country to use it? Have there been similar problems in the USA?
Many questions and as yet too few answers but the facts remain – many of our allotment holders have lost this years crop, next years crop and have no hobby to enjoy, and this will no doubt be repeated on many more unsuspecting sites in the years to come unless this insidious product is at least more tightly controlled or, better, banned.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. efr1
Comment No. 1193826
June 30 9:291)The Final Solution.
SUE.
This is standard US practice to experiment on the sheople.. pay later or avoid paying if possible. I will not list examples here as the moderators may think it too inflamatory.
Lots of US lawyers will offer to sue on your behalf for a big chunk of the proceeds if any.
Afew mangled marrows is small chees for the big CORPS.
eg.
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A Denver, Colorado court has fined Dow Chemical Co. and Boeing Co. a combined 926 million dollars for property damages caused by plutonium contamination from a nuclear weapons plant.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080603/bs_afp/ustrialfinecompanyboeingdowchemical
DOW can do it too..
“Yes that’s right – the very people Dow should be helping are now facing a lawsuit from one of the world most powerful corporations. Why are they acting in such an amazingly perverse manner? On December 2nd a peaceful march of 200 women survivors from Bhopal delivered toxic waste from the abandoned Carbide factory back to Dow’s Indian headquarters in Bombay with the demand that Dow take responsibility for the disaster and clean up the site. Dow obviously has other ideas because they are suing survivors for about $10,000 US for “loss of work.” That’s $10,000 US compensation demanded for a two hour peaceful protest where only one Dow employee briefly ventured out of the Mumbai corporate business park to meet the women protestors.”
http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/dow-chemical-sues-survivors
2) The intermediate solution.. Boycott all DOW products and anyone doing “business” with DOW.
Includes WMD, GM.,Toxic Coke.. etc.
see also
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=572
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=9568
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. efr1
Comment No. 1193828
June 30 9:291)The Final Solution.
SUE.
This is standard US practice to experiment on the sheople.. pay later or avoid paying if possible. I will not list examples here as the moderators may think it too inflamatory.
Lots of US lawyers will offer to sue on your behalf for a big chunk of the proceeds if any.
Afew mangled marrows is small chees for the big CORPS.
eg.
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A Denver, Colorado court has fined Dow Chemical Co. and Boeing Co. a combined 926 million dollars for property damages caused by plutonium contamination from a nuclear weapons plant.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080603/bs_afp/ustrialfinecompanyboeingdowchemical
DOW can do it too..
“Yes that’s right – the very people Dow should be helping are now facing a lawsuit from one of the world most powerful corporations. Why are they acting in such an amazingly perverse manner? On December 2nd a peaceful march of 200 women survivors from Bhopal delivered toxic waste from the abandoned Carbide factory back to Dow’s Indian headquarters in Bombay with the demand that Dow take responsibility for the disaster and clean up the site. Dow obviously has other ideas because they are suing survivors for about $10,000 US for “loss of work.” That’s $10,000 US compensation demanded for a two hour peaceful protest where only one Dow employee briefly ventured out of the Mumbai corporate business park to meet the women protestors.”
http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/dow-chemical-sues-survivors
2) The intermediate solution.. Boycott all DOW products and anyone doing “business” with DOW.
Includes WMD, GM.,Toxic Coke.. etc.
see also
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=572
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=9568
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. john5000
Comment No. 1193847
June 30 9:37I’m wondering if these ‘Chemtrails’ have anything to do with it. The big boys have known for some time things were going to get hard for us all and take up growing stuff, so they aerial spray us all. Do a web search on chemtrails see what you think.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. efr1
Comment No. 1193867
June 30 9:47Sorry my comment was posted twice somehow..
I re-read some of the intro.
“Should the farmer who sold the manure be held responsible? That is not an easy one. In some cases the farmer had not sprayed his grassland at all and behaved completely responsibly..” And in some cases the farmer died and another bought his mess (As DOW did with Union Carbide.)
Holy Cow! Absolutely incredible display of ignorance about cow dung.. where it goes.. and of corporate irresponsibility.
Smoke and mirrors!
Brings to mind the cooking fires I saw coming in to land in Delhi 30 years ago…
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. efr1
Comment No. 1193868
June 30 9:48Sorry my comment was posted twice somehow..
I re-read some of the intro.
“Should the farmer who sold the manure be held responsible? That is not an easy one. In some cases the farmer had not sprayed his grassland at all and behaved completely responsibly..” And in some cases the farmer died and another bought his mess (As DOW did with Union Carbide.)
Holy Cow! Absolutely incredible display of ignorance about cow dung.. where it goes.. and of corporate irresponsibility.
Smoke and mirrors!
Brings to mind the cooking fires I saw coming in to land in Delhi 30 years ago…
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. efr1
Comment No. 1193869
June 30 9:48Sorry my comment was posted twice somehow..
I re-read some of the intro.
“Should the farmer who sold the manure be held responsible? That is not an easy one. In some cases the farmer had not sprayed his grassland at all and behaved completely responsibly..” And in some cases the farmer died and another bought his mess (As DOW did with Union Carbide.)
Holy Cow! Absolutely incredible display of ignorance about cow dung.. where it goes.. and of corporate irresponsibility.
Smoke and mirrors!
Brings to mind the cooking fires I saw coming in to land in Delhi 30 years ago…
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. Lloyd97
Comment No. 1194724
June 30 13:53If you really want your blood to boil, take a look at this article, which suggests this is repeat of history.
http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Clopyralid-Composting-Dow.htm
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. beesontoast
Comment No. 1195672
June 30 19:42And while you are about it, watch out for Levingtons potting compost with ‘ADDED PLANT PROTECTION’ – that means it contains IMIDACLOPRID – a deadly nerve agent that is lethal to bees and all other insects and is the most likely culprit behind so-called Colony Collapse Disorder.
Imidacloprid is chemically similar (neo-nicotinoid) to Clothianidin, which recently killed up to half a BILLION bees in Germany recently.
Both chemicals are made by Bayer – see www.bayer-kills-bees.com
It is time we took REAL action against these chemical/GM companies – they are the ones destroying this planet with their greed.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. alice2008
Comment No. 1195929
June 30 23:03I totally agree that this is absolutely disgraceful.I have read the above posts and yes,yes, something needs to be done .This company and others like it must be brought to account-but how exactly?Can someone suggest specific lines of action ?Can we form a group?..and why isn’t this all over the media?( eg zilch in the DT)… and any Environmental Health officers reading this -can’t we get every office in the country checking this out with local gardeners ?that would be a start.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. wastebuster
Comment No. 1195978
June 30 23:35I recently wrote to Dow after reading the article in the Observer. I await their reply to this……
Dear Staff member,
I have grown organically for 20+ years using manure on my potatoes as a time honoured practice. This year Inoticed that my potatoes were growing very tall, thin, drawn, wispy and the leaves were curling upwards. They looked very sickly. I used manure as usual. I do not know where the manure came from, it was given to me by a delivery van some time ago. I have never seen this problem before.
I am aware of the problems associated with aminopyralid and would be grateful if you could answer the following please.
1) Horse manure is alive with microbial activity that eventually breaks it down as it is consumed by the microbes. What affect does aminopyralid have on the microbes that are consuming fresh horse manure?
2) Is it completely harmless to such microbes or does it kill them, inhibit their growth, inhibit fertility, affect fecundity, or affect them in any other way? If so how does it affect them?
3) Does aminopyralid affect soil microbes? If so how?
4) How long would it take for the aminopyralid to become totally inactive in the soil under normal conditions?
5) On your web site you state that aminopyralid, under normal conditions, breaks down in the soil once the plant tissues decay. Bearing in mind that horse manure is stored in very large heaps, some being continuously added to on a regular basis, ensuring that the plant tissues, i.e are continually being added to by way of straw/similar bedding material and therefore not broken down thereby releasing the active ingredients, how would this affect the breakdown of the active ingredients in aminopyralid?
6) In theory because of being continually being refreshed with new material, your product would never degrade and would lie in the heap for a very long time as it binds itself strongly to plant tissues, hence it may well remain in the heap, for as long as the heap is in existence. Would this be a true statement to make?
7) Your website states that all plant remains should be completely decayed before planting sensitive crops. Many gardeners such as myself, grow potatoes, a sensitive crop, after dressing the ground the previous autumn/winter/spring with manure and/or using manure as a mulch after planting. This is a common practice, also carried out by arable farmers of potatoes. The plant residues therefore are almost intact and easily visible as part of the manure/straw mulch. As they have not broken down therefore, potatoes and other sensitive crops simply should not be grown. Is this true?
8) I notice Forefront benefits are still apparent up to 18 months after application. In effect, would it be wise not to grow sensitive crops in land previously manured with manure containing aminopyralid for at least 18 months?
9) I grow organic vegetables myself to help my family eat wholesome, uncontaminated food as well as it being cheaper than buying. For many people this would now appear to be impossible for them to achieve and more costly in having to purchase food over a long period as this chemical degrades on their soil. Who is going to take responsibility for this?
10) I note from your web site that you state the application of aminopyralid is not authorised for use on food crops and should not be used on such crops. Why is this?
11) You state “Based on our research studies, consumption of trace levels of such product residues in a range of crops should not cause an unacceptable risk to human health”
Could you be more specific as to what research studies you undertook?
11) You state that manure/compost/slurry from animals fed on grass, silage, hay, treated with aminopyralid…..therefore the animals have been feed indirectly with aminopryalid can then be fed to humans and enter our food chain, yet you specifically state that “As a general rule, we suggest damaged produce (however this is caused) should not be consumed”. Yet we are allowed to eat meat from animals fed on, albeit indirectly, with aminopyralid? Is this not a contradiction?
I teach organic gardening/environmental topics and am very worried indeed about the implications of this to our food, food supply and the environment in general.
Yours Faithfully,
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. ExPatBritInUSA
Comment No. 1196148
July 1 3:42Pesticides and herbicides kill living cells. Don’t they? Ingest even a little, as spray residues, and they will still kill some of yours. At low doses, you may not notice. At least, not for a while. But many of your internal organs cannot regenerate. Your kidneys. Your thyroid. Your prostate. Your ovaries. Others. Every time you eat a little more spray residue, a part of you dies. Or malfunctions and becomes the seed of a tumour. Unless you ingest a large dose, medical testing is not sensitive enough to notice your cell death from one day (week? month?) to the next. (Even if it was, the “noise” in your metabolism would hide the change.) So we don’t challenge the liars in the chemical companies when they trot out their excuse for why we should not hold them responsible: “There is no scientific proof…” But real people — you and I — don’t demand “scientific truth” for every decision, every course of action in our day to day lives. We don’t submit everything in our lives to “scientific enquiry” because — surprise, surprise — good old-fashioned common sense almost always works just fine… Dear reader, try applying some good old-fashioned common sense to your choice of foods. Avoid the low-dose poisons. And let’s start holding the poisoners accountable for their actions. They keep the profits. You and your children get to pay the medical bills, both financially and emotionally. Is that fair? Let’s start holding them accountable. How about a boycott of their poisons and other products? Poisoning people doesn’t bother them — but loss of profit does… Close your wallets and spread the word.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. ticklebrick
Comment No. 1197685
July 1 16:08To all those calling for accountability for this shocking chemical trespass into our immediate environment, it’s worth keeping in mind that not only does $54 billion Dow has a long list of comparable incidents in its history, it’s a company that has worked very hard to be exceedingly well connected in high places. By way of example, one of its directors, John Danforth, was considered by Dubya for the vice presidency just a few years back, and it retains high level connections with the current US administration.
It’s therefore no mystery why a chemical rejected on environmental impact grounds by New York State should have so little difficulty reaching the UK marketplace. In 2003, ngos in the US exposed Dow’s heavy-handed interference in European chemical policy. The EU had drafted a paper for legislative proposals known as the Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) which would have instituted the ‘precautionary principle’ on new and existing commercially used chemicals: in other words, if there were concerns of a potential health impact then caution would be imposed upon it. After Dow’s lobbying with US and Greek (who held the EU presidency at the time) officials, the heart was ripped out of the proposals. See https://www.bhopal.net/article.php?pid=97 for details.
A coalition of Dow-affected groups has formed to pool information and share solidarity – http://www.truthaboutdow.org – so attempts to group together to obtain redress could do worse than establish contact with this.
Finally, there are a group of people currently putting their bodies on the line in attempting to make Dow accountable for previous misdemeanors. They reason that if accountability can be reached in their case, it will help establish a legal precedent for multinational accountability for environmental harm by overseas subsidiaries. Their work is therefore in all our interests.
The people are survivors of Dow and Union Carbide’s poisoning of Bhopal, one of the world’s epic injustices, and today seven of them are 22 days into a hunger strike. They’re calling for people of conscience everywhere to join them to help achieve justice. See https://www.bhopal.net for details…
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. Indra
Comment No. 1198143
July 1 19:23Dow Agrosciences are the same Dow outfit that was recently fined $325,000 after admitting routinely bribing Indian government officials to license as safe for use several pesticides, including Dursban (chlorpyrifos) despite this pesticide having been banned for domestic use in the United States. This follows on from Dow’s continued export of nemagon, an anti-nematode treatment used on banana plantations which was banned in the US in 1979, to banana growers throughout central and south America, west Africa and the Phillippines, where as a result thousands of agricultural workers and their families are now sick with hideous diseases. An unspeakable horror continues to unfold in Bhopal where a factory abandoned by Dow subsidiary Union Carbide has leaked poisons into the soil and drinking water of thousands with the result that huundreds of damaged children are being born. Despite the “polluter pays” principle applying in India as in the US, neither Union Carbide nor Dow will accept responsibility for clearing up the mess.
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. gordo
Comment No. 1200927
July 3 8:22Vegan gardening? That’s a new one on me. I just wondered if such a process excluded worms, and their excrement?
Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment. Caddi
Comment No. 1202406
July 3 17:54Suppose (just for a moment) that you had a big agrochemical company. Organic growers don’t buy much from your company. Not only that but their popularity is growing, they are encouraging others to grow their own organically, and organic food is becoming more and more popular.
Suppose (just for a moment) you had the aim of putting organic gardening out of business.
In that case, wouldn’t it be a good idea to ensure that the key soil improvers that organic growers use were contaminated with something? How could you possibly get anything into compost or – ah, manure, now that might be possible…..
Wouldn’t it be a good idea that the only way to get round it was to grow GM seeds which are specifically designed to be resistant to that something? That way you could sell the GM crops to the (previously organic) growers. A new market which is dependent on your company.
If it isn’t deliberate it is damned lucky for the company.

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