Due to a loophole in the US Department of Agriculture’s organics standards, which bans pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers, organic produce could still be irrigated with fracking waste-water, reported Mother Jones.
In 2014, oil companies provided half of the water used for 45,000 acres of farmland in the Cawelo Water District in Kern County, California. Some of that farmland is owned by Sunview, which sells organic grapes and raisins. This arrangement between the district and oil companies has some people concerned if organic produce is being irrigated with fracking waste-water.
“The USDA organic regulations do not directly address the use of irrigation water on organic farms,” said a USDA National Organics Program spokesperson. “”But organic operations must generally maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.”
USDA organic standards do not require farms to conduct quality tests on irrigation water, and the water isn’t evaluated by the Organic Materials Review Institute. Because USDA standards have no regulations on irrigation water, fracking waste-water laden with chemicals, like benzene, could be feeding organic produce.
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto recently introduced a bill that would require crops irrigated with the tainted water to be labeled accordingly. Corporations try to feed the public enough poison, and the people don’t need it anymore.