Nutrition Business Journal

California Company Dupes Farmers, Consumers with Spiked Organic Fertilizer


For nearly seven years, some of the largest U.S. producers of organic fruits and vegetables, including Earthbound Farm, were using a certified organic fertilizer that actually contained ammonium sulfate, a synthetic fertilizer banned from organic farms. According to a December 28 story in the Sacrament Bee, Biolizer XN, which is made by California Liquid Fertilizer, was pulled from the market in January 2007, two and a half years after an employee blew the whistle on the company and two years after the start of an investigation by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Biolizer XN, which was marketed as being made from fish and chicken feathers and was approved by organic regulators, held up to a third of California’s organic fertilizer market, the Bee reported.

Earthbound Farm said it was stepping up its testing to ensure nothing like this happens again. "To protect the organic integrity of our crops and our farms from being victimized again, we have instituted a stringent organic verification process for all liquid fertilizers,” said Samantha Cabaluna, director of communications for Earthbound Farm, in a prepared statement. “Any of our farmers using any kind of liquid fertilizer must subject it to nitrogen testing and process validation by an independent, third-party lab to ensure that any product marketed as organic is legitimately organic,"

Boston-based Converted Organics acquired California Liquid Fertilizer and its parent company United Organic Products in January 2008.

To read the fullSacramento Bee report, see: Organic Farms Unknowingly Used A Synthetic Fertilizer

According to Nutrition Business Journal estimates, total U.S. consumer organic food sales grew 17% to $18.9 billion in 2007. NBJ subscribers interested in reading more of our coverage of the organic market, should see:

2008 Organic Markets Overview
Organic Farming: Demand Outpaces Production
Organic Produce Growers Expand Production

NBJ will publish its 2009 Organic Food and Beverage issue in April. To order your copy of the issue or to subscribe to NBJ, go to

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