Tonawanda News

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June 7, 2014

Sewage sludge labeling bill pushed

Tonawanda News — A pair of Wheatfield residents are heading to Albany to lobby for an end to the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer.

In a release issued by his office on Friday, state Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, said he will play host to Julie Otto and Monica Daigler, who will visit Albany Monday to support labeling legislation sponsored by Ceretto. 

The proposed legislation would require food products produced from fertilizer made with sewage sludge, commonly known as biosolids, to be labeled as such. Ceretto said Otto and Daigler were among a group of Wheatfield residents who successfully lobbied to stop Quasar Energy Group from spreading Equate, a byproduct of anaerobic digestion on local farmlands. They will be meeting with members of the New York State Legislature and other interested parties during their stay in Albany.

Ceretto noted that Switzerland and Austria have banned the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer, while in Sweden and parts of Germany supermarkets do not stock products treated with biosolids. Many leading food companies will not use food that has been fertilized with biosolids, he said. Farmers are concerned that their products will not be purchased at local farmers’ markets if they can not show that they do not use biosolids, according to Ceretto. 

“Julie and Monica made their voices heard loud and clear — fertilizer made from human sewage sludge is not safe in our communities for the production of food," Ceretto said. "This is a public health issue, and I stand alongside them in the push to protect our families, our food supply and our communities. We do not welcome the use of human sewage sludge as fertilizer in our community, and we have the right to know if our food was produced with it.”

The bill, numbered A.9827, has been referred to the Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee and would require all food products produced with fertilizer made with anaerobically-digested human waste to be labeled so consumers can choose whether or not to buy the products. 

“People should be able to make a fully informed choice about whether or not to eat food grown using human fecal matter. This legislation ensures they have that ability,” Ceretto said.

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