Sally Brown and BioCycle Magazine, Supporters of Growing Food in Sewage Sludge, Call Organic Food Advocates “Ecoterrorists”

April 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm 7 comments

CONTACT:  John Stauber, Senior Adviser, Food Rights Network
PHONE: (608) 260-9713; (608) 279-4044

Sally Brown and BioCycle Magazine, Supporters of Growing Food in Sewage Sludge, Call Organic Food Advocates “Ecoterrorists”

Organic Consumers Association and Food Rights Network Demand Retraction at April 12 BioCycle Conference (Brown Headlining)

SAN DIEGO–Leading organic gardening and food safety advocates who oppose  growing food in sewage sludge are attending the national BioCycle magazine conference Tuesday, April 12, 2011 in San Diego to demand an apology and retraction from Sally Brown, a columnist and editorial board member of BioCycle magazine, and from Nora Goldstein, the executive editor of BioCycle.

Sally Brown, who is also a research associate professor at the University of Washington, is delivering a keynote address at the BioCycle conference; she promotes growing food in sewage sludge “fertilizer.” John Stauber, senior adviser to the Food Rights Network and co-author of the bestselling book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!, plans to personally deliver letters to Brown and Goldstein demanding an apology and retraction.

Last month, Brown wrote and Goldstein published that “six ecoterrorists have the City of San Francisco quaking in its boots, leading officials to stop a compost giveaway program that was making hundreds happy.”

As John Stauber of the Food Rights Network and Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association note in their letter to the two:

“Dr. Brown’s column in the March 2011 edition of BioCycle magazine makes a false and defamatory charge calling us ‘ecoterrorists.’  The Organic Consumers Association and the Food Rights Network are proud to have led the coalition that successfully put this sewage waste disposal scam on apparently permanent hold in San Francisco. Indeed, we are expanding our efforts to warn the public at large that so-called “biosolids” and “biosolids compost” are actually sewage sludge and thus contaminated with toxic and hazardous substances.


Your smear of us as ‘ecoterrorists’ recklessly disregards the truth. We are the proponents of genuine organic food and farming practices and federal law forbids putting sewage sludge on organic farms and gardens. It is a fraud upon the public to promote sewage sludge products containing hazardous substances—such as pathogens, pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, flame-retardants, endocrine disruptors, metals, and thousands of other contaminants—as ‘organic compost.’ The success of our coalition in exposing and stopping this fraudulent practice bears absolutely no resemblance to the felony crime of ‘ecoterrorism.’ ”

“Such vilification is particularly pernicious in the post-9/11 environment, with the expanded powers of the federal government to investigate charges of ecoterrorism. . . . That BioCycle magazine would call us ‘ecoterrorists’ is also quite possibly malicious, given your financial interests in promoting sewage sludge-derived products.  We expect a written apology from both of you for your libel against us . . . .  Additionally, we demand that . . .  this retraction and apology be publicly announced from the podium at the national BioCycle conference April 12th in San Diego.”

The BioCycle conference begins April 12, and the keynote address at which Brown is slated to speak is scheduled for 9 AM PST.

The Food Rights Network is a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, based in Madison, Wisconsin:

The Organic Consumers Association is based in Finland, Minnesota:

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Entry filed under: Blog, News, Press. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Response to Sludge Proponent Sally Brown’s False and Defamatory Charge Calling Food Rights Network “Ecoterrorists”


  • 1. Reverend Manny  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Love you guys, think you do GREAT work… wish your blog was a little more share-friendly (like mb add a twitter or share/add button)… but its all good, will def be tweeting this entry…..

  • 2. Nicholas Wilson  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    The very word “ecoterrorist” is PR spin defaming environmental activists. It was coined by the jerk heading the “Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise,” whose name I have forgot, but it’s in Sourcewatch in an entry I contributed.

    The fact that it is a federal crime is a marker for the success of the long right-wing PR campaign by ALEC to make it so.

    Good luck and keep up the fine work.

  • 3. Jim Bynum  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Sally Brown should have read the article
    “Pathogen Destruction and Biosolids Composting” in Biocycle of June of 1996, which states, “There is some evidence that coliforms and Salmonella sp. can survive prolonged exposure to temperatures of 55 C.” Droffner and Brinton found that it took 56 days and 90 days for the densities of Salmonella sp.
    and E. Coli, respectively, to decline below the detection limit…These investigators also “cite
    evidence of mutant strains of E. coli and Salmonella sp. resistant to thermal environments in composting.” (p. 68)

  • 4. Sharon  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Not only does she put your organization at risk when she slings the word “terrorist” at you she puts all of your supporters at risk of being dangerously labeled too. This kind of statement is much like yelling Hi Jack on a plane in today’s world. I’ll be writing my own letter to this person to try and help her understand exactly what she’s doing when she slings this type of sludge.

  • […] via RELEASE: ??Sally Brown and Bio­Cy­cle Mag­a­zine, Sup­port­ers of Grow­ing Food in Sewage Slu…. […]

  • 6. Marcos  |  April 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    This is certainly a little something I have to find more information about, thank you for the blog post.

  • 7. Sandy Barringer  |  April 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Eco-terrorists? What an insult and orwellian use of words.
    I bought a bag of so-called “organic” soil a couple of years ago, and it had no indication that it was sewage sludge. I found out that it must be since every last thing I planted in it died! There was nothing organic about that, and I’ve been doing organic gardening for over 50 years. When I dumped it out on the lawn, it even killed the grass. I’d call that toxic! What I learned from that is to make your own organic compost. You can’t trust retailers.
    Also, I have no idea why sewage sludge is still being promoted as anything you’d grow food in. When I lived in El Paso, they tried using sewage sludge on the local farms and everything died. After that, they put the sludge in the landfill. Yet, this poison brew is still being promoted? Unbelievable.

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