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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.


This article is part of the Food Rights Network, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. Find out more here.

John Stauber, author and adviser to the Food Rights Network, reveals one of the biggest toxic scams in America, sewage sludge being sold as garden "compost" for growing vegetables.

Amend is a Kellogg Garden Products "soil" or "compost" derived from sewage sludge and sold to grow vegetables. It was tested and found by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission in 2010 to be heavily contaminated with Dioxin.[1]

Hundreds of communities across the U.S. sell toxic sludge products that are typically renamed biosolids and sold or given away as "fertilizer" or "compost" (and often even labeled or marketed as "natural" or "organic"). Kellogg Amend has put its sludge on the organic urban and school gardens of the Environmental Media Association and staged photo-ops at the gardens with its Amend product.

The Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities notes, "Kellogg Supply is a private company which purchases composted biosolids (sewage sludge) from the sanitary district of Los Angeles, California. The company manufactures a variety of lawn and garden soil conditioner and fertilizer products from this compost. The products, which include Nitrohumus, Gromulch, Amend and Topper, are bagged and sold to homeowners and landscapers through retail centers in California and other states. About 70% of Kelloggs total annual sales are of composted biosolids products. This represents about 250,000 cubic yards per year." [2]

Amend is made by Kellogg Garden Products, a company that produces and sells sewage sludge garden products.[3] Founded by H. Clay Kellogg in 1925, Kellogg Garden Products has sold sludge-based products from the start, beginning with the product Nitrohumus.[4] In its long history, Kellogg has marketed and sold products for World War II era Victory Gardens, professional baseball fields, the Getty Museum, and Disneyland. Today, Kellogg still offers Nitrohumus, as well as other sludge products Gromulch, Amend, and Topper. These products are sold by Home Depot and Lowes, neither of which mention the inclusion of sewage sludge or biosolids in the products on their websites. According to one source, 70 percent of Kellogg's sales are in sewage sludge products.[5]

Kellogg Sewage Sludge on EMA's Hollywood Organic Gardens

Kellogg's PR spin about Amend, which is labeled quality organics

Kathy Kellogg is on the corporate advisory board for the Environmental Media Association, a non-profit organization that on May 12, 2009 announced that it had "launched an ongoing partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District to "support organic gardens and greenery in urban schools across Los Angeles. [6] EMA's Spring, 2010 newsletter reports that Kellogg Garden Products company has "donated soil, fertilizer, and amendment to each of our ten adopted schools... At another campus, the Kellogg's donation allowed the school to plant a bed solely dedicated to vegetables. And stated by the Westminster Elementary school garden manager, this 'donation from Kellogg Garden Products... it's garden gold!' "[7] The top video on this page has Rosario Dawson working in an EMA garden, and shows behind her, mostly blocked from view but clearly identifiable, a bag of Amend, the Kellogg sludge product.

Kellogg Sewage Sludge Used in EMA Organic School Garden Program

Kellogg Garden Products has been providing its sewage sludge compost Amend to the urban and schoolyard gardens program of EMA. The Summer 2010 EMA Online Newsletter has a photo (second from the top) of a bag of Amend and Kathy Kellogg Johnson at an EMA celebrity garden event. The article reads,

  • "EMA, along with our Young Hollywood Board, celebrated the successful first year of our school garden program with an organic luncheon at the amazing Learning Garden located at Venice High School. What is now an annual event, our first school gardens luncheon was enjoyed by students and teachers from each of our initially adopted 9 schools and EMA Young Hollywood Board Members Amy Smart (board chair), Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rosario Dawson, Ali Larter, Rachelle Lefevre, and Carter Oosterhouse. We were also honored to have Executive Board members Frances Fisher, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Kropa and Wendie Malick join us for the event. Working with partner sponsors Yes to Carrots and Kellogg Garden Products, EMA has supported organic gardens in Los Angeles with monetary grants, product donations and celebrity mentors to spotlight the need for organic gardens in urban schools. The Learning Garden is a model example of how school gardens can transform the lives of students and teachers and the environment of their community. At this special luncheon 80 guests enjoyed a delicious meal catered by our friends at the Border Grill Truck. Chef Mary Sue Milliken incorporated fresh organic vegetables and herbs from our partner schools. As our guests enjoyed their meal, EMA President Debbie Levin and EMA Young Hollywood Board chair Amy Smart emceed a short program that focused on the importance of healthy foods in our schools. Rosario DawsonThe day closed with the announcement of the winning school for a $5,000 grant from Yes to Carrots to support an organic school garden. Over 400 schools entered the contest and the winner was Highland Elementary School in Minnesota! As we move into fall 2010, the EMA Young Hollywood Board will be mentoring 16 gardens! We look forward to adding more gardens each year and helping to assist, motivate and encourage this important direction in education and nutrition for children of all ages." [8]

Pollutants Found in Kellogg Nitrohumus, High Dioxin in Kellogg Amend

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission performed analytical testing at Synagro Central Valley to determine the priority pollutant contaminants found in commercially available soil fertilizers. It found that:

"The frequency of detection of any of the 126 priority pollutants in commercial samples ranged from a low of 8 contaminants found ((Kellogg's) Gardeners Steer Manure & Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Garden Soil) up to a high 19 present in one product (Kellogg Nitrohumus)." SFPUC also found high levels of arsenic and lead in Kellogg fertilizers. Testing also showed high levels of Dioxin in Kellogg Amend, 65.97 parts per trillion. [9][The complete results of the testing are available here

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. SFPUC Biosolids Compost Memo, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, July 27, 2010.
  2. Metroplitan Council of the Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul website, accessed February 1, 2011
  3., Kellogg Garden Products website, Accessed June 28th, 2010.
  4. Kellogg Garden Products - CASE STUDY III, Utility Branding Network for Water and Waste Water Agencies, 2008.
  5. U.S. Biosolids Scene, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, Accessed November 11, 2010.
  6. EMA Website on Gardens Program Accessed Feb. 1, 2011
  7. EMA newsletter for Spring 2010, accessed Feb. 1, 2011
  8. Summer 2010 EMA Online Newsletter, Accessed 4/20/11.
  9. SFPUC Biosolids Compost Memo, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, July 27, 2010.

External resources

External articles