Again, Organic Food Is Grown With Manure From Factory Farms And With Synthetic Pesticides

USDAOrganicCropGuide2I meet a lot of people who think that organic food is somehow pure. Is grown without pesticides and other undesirable chemicals. It’s simply not true, as I wrote about here: Organic Food Is Grown With Manure From Factory Farms, Synthetic Pesticides.

USDA: Guide For Organic Producers (pdf), Pamela Coleman, November 2012

About chemicals:

Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production: … The list includes algaecides, disinfectants, sanitizers, irrigation system cleaners, herbicides, animal repellents, insecticides, miticides, pheromones, rodenticides, slug baits, plant disease controls, soil amendments, and plant growth regulators.


Cattle yard in northern Iowa in winter. Manure from CAFOs may be used in organic farming. – Wikipedia

About fertilizer:

Manures from conventional systems are allowed in organic production, including manure from livestock grown in confinement and from those that have been fed genetically engineered feeds. Manure sources containing excessive levels of pesticides, heavy metals, or other contaminants may be prohibited from use. Such contamination is likely present in manure obtained from industrial-scale feedlots and other confinement facilities.

Herbicide residues have been found in manures and manure-based composts.

Those herbicide residues can be Monsanto’s Roundup.

People say, “Not my organic food!” Their farmer doesn’t use any of those practices. Really? Do they know the farmer who grew their organic popcorn? The organic wheat in their organic bread and pasta? Their organic oats? Organic spices? Organic coffee and tea? Maybe they do.

Look, I will buy organic if I can get my hands on it and if it fits into my budget because I think it might be a hair better. I don’t really know. But I’m not fooling myself that it is some kind of nectar from the gods. We can’t trash the planet like we do and not expect our food to be contaminated.

7 thoughts on “Again, Organic Food Is Grown With Manure From Factory Farms And With Synthetic Pesticides

  1. Conor Flynn

    Hi bix, I always hear arguments about whether organic is really healthier. Why not look at the USDA testing data? is a website that compiles USDA data on suspected carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disrupters in food. Click on the organic vs conventional link for any chemical to see the test results. Yes, there is contamination of organic food, but it is much, much less than conventional.


    1. Bix Post author

      Testing is important. This set of tests showed organic eggs didn’t just have more Roundup herbicide than conventional eggs, but had more than the EPA allowed:

      Product Test Reveals Organic Foods Contain Glyphosate, The Herbicide In Monsanto’s Roundup

      Here’s an investigation that showed:
      Food Fraud: The Case Of Factory-Farmed “Organic” Milk And Eggs

      I’m familiar with your site and it’s good and thank you for posting it. But we don’t really know what’s in the food we’re about to eat unless we have it tested, which is unrealistic. I think regulation can go far in cleaning up our food. And regulation is terrible.

      Speaking of regulation … If I hold for a moment that organic food really is better, what do people who can’t get it eat? Is it just “too bad” as someone at @CivilEats said to me? Is the cleaner food just for the privileged? As I’ve said often, I don’t think we should be creating a parallel set of standards, one for the privileged and one for everyone else. It’s not a good use of taxpayer money.


  2. Melinda

    I agree with this comment of yours, Bix: “Look, I will buy organic if I can get my hands on it and if it fits into my budget because I think it might be a hair better.” That’s always been how I’ve thought, though I have not always eaten organic foods. If organic is bad–in whatever way–conventional likely is worse, both for the eater(s) and for the environment. Thanks for this thoughtful post.


  3. Melinda

    I was really curious about conventional manure used on organic farms, so I tried to look it up. Here’s the “dirt” (ha ha) from another source:
    “Use of manure imported from conventional farming operations is allowed by National Organic Program (NOP) standards. There are, however, application restrictions. Manure may only be used in conjunction with other soil-building practices and be stored in a way that prevents contamination of surface or ground water. Many certifiers specify that manure application must not exceed “agronomic application rates”, which means the amount applied must be less than or equal to the requirements of the crop. Manure cannot be applied when the ground is frozen, snow-covered, or saturated.

    The NOP regulation (§205.203(c)(1)) specifies that “raw” fresh, aerated, anaerobic, or “sheet composted” manures may only be applied on perennials or crops not for human consumption, or such uncomposted manures must be incorporated at least four months (120 days) before harvest of a crop for human consumption, if the crop contacts the soil or soil particles (especially important for nitrate accumulators, such as spinach). If the crop for human consumption does not contact the soil or soil particles (e.g. sweet corn), raw manure can be incorporated up to 90 days prior to harvest. Biosolids, sewage sludge, and other human wastes are prohibited. Septic wastes are prohibited, as well as anything containing human waste.

    Composted plant and animal manures (§205.203(c)(2)) are those that are produced by a process that: (i) established an initial C:N ratio of between 25:1 and 40:1; and (ii) maintained a temperature of 131°F to 170°F for 3 days using an in-vessel or static aerated pile system; or (iii) a temperature of between 131°F and 170°F for 15 days using a windrow composting system, during which period, the materials must be turned a minimum of five times. Alternatively, acceptable composts must meet the November 9, 2006 NOSB Recommendation for Guidance Use of Compost, Vermicompost, Processed Manure and Compost Tea that identifies materials and practices that would be acceptable under 205.203(c)(2). For more information see Making and Using Composts in Organic Systems.

    Processed manures are addressed in section §205.203(c)(3). Heat-treated, processed manure may be used as a supplement to a soil-building program, without a specific interval between application and harvest. Producers are expected to comply with all applicable requirements of the NOP regulation with respect to soil quality, including ensuring the soil is enhanced and maintained through proper stewardship.

    According to the NOP’s July 17, 2007 ruling, “processed manure products must be treated so that all portions of the product, without causing combustion, reach a minimum temperature of either 150°F (66°C) for at least one hour or 165°F (74°C), and are dried to a maximum moisture level of 12%; or an equivalent heating and drying process could be used.” To achieve equivalency status, processed manure products can not contain more than 1×10³ (1,000) MPN (Most Probable Number) fecal coliform per gram of processed material sampled and not contain more than 3 MPN Salmonella per 4 gram sample of processed manure.”

    Here’s the link:

    I suppose they stipulate “livestock” manure as most livestock is vegan or vegetarian. Human waste is strictly forbidden (too much residual medication). And theoretically, they shouldn’t use manure from meat-eating zoo animals, or any meat-eating animal, really.


  4. Bix Post author

    The other thing about creating an “organic” label is that it becomes desirable. Producers will do whatever it takes to stick that desirable label on their food, even if it means … not playing fair.


  5. Melinda

    Geez, you mean “not playing fair” isn’t a right written into our Constitution??!! You’d think it was, from the way people so often (and so dubiously) fall back on the First Amendment. It’s dreadful.



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