Challenging the Toxic Footprint of Chemical Fertilizers, Soil Amendments and Sewage Sludge
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While is a growing awareness of the environmental health impacts of pesticide exposure, many people around the world are unaware of the contaminants that are added to farmland. This is a serious food sovereignty issue and linked to point 7a of the Earth Charter – “ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by the ecological system”. We review how toxins are “recycled” into chemical fertilizers or applied directly to farmland as “soil additives. Many cities provide sewage sludge for free to local farmers, who happily accept the sludge without fully understanding how they are contaminating the ecosystem and food supply. We take a good look at Halifax’s plans to apply sewage sludge on nearby farmland. While Halifax residents are being encouraged to “eat local”, their food will soon be contaminated by toxins in sewage sludge or “biosolids”. The application of sewage sludge adds heavy metals and pathogens to local farmland and to the food chain. Some contaminants are spread directly on farmland in other places as a form of “recycling”. Finally we review sustainable sewage treatment practices and ecological ways of maintaining, increasing soil fertility and promoting food sovereignty.