As the Worm Turns….100K fine over Worm Castings

Even when you are generally quite informed about things going on in a particular sector, as I often think I am with food and ag, you miss stuff. Sometimes really, really big stuff. Last night, when I was searching for something completely unrelated, I found that I had completely missed yet another insane regulatory action. I came across an article on a blog about a man, George Hahn, in California being fined $100,000 over touting the benefits of his worm castings. After searching the actual case, I found only one other article from a newspaper that had any kind of depth to it.


Here is an excerpt from the first article I found. It’s from Pacific Legal Foundation:

“Healthy plants resist pests naturally by producing enzymes that smell bad to bugs,” Sandefur explained. “Fertilizer made from worm castings helps plants to grow strong. It doesn’t do anything to bugs directly, and isn’t poisonous to them.”

“Unfortunately, Worm Gold is so effective that it alarmed state bureaucrats, who simply couldn’t allow a businessman to provide a safe, natural product to help gardeners without the state’s say-so,” said Sandefur.

The DPR determined that, because Hahn’s fertilizer boosts plants’ natural resistance to pests, it qualifies as a “pesticide” and he must obtain DPR registration – involving years of testing and thousands of dollars in fees – before he can sell it to the public. Worm Gold is already licensed as a fertilizer.

“The DPR is twisting the dictionary as it tries to fertilize and expand its bureaucratic empire,” Sandefur said. “These regulators would have us believe that anything that deters pests in any way should be called a ‘pesticide.’ At a hearing last summer, a couple of these bureaucrats were even brazen enough to say that water is a pesticide, when it is used to keep insects off of plant stems.”
Timothy Sandefur—Principal Attorney


As I dug, I found only one article from a Sacremento site that had any depth to it and revealed any particulars on the case. Evidently, there were allegations that Hahn, the owner of the company selling Worm Gold had asserted that worm castings were somehow pesticides. While you certainly can’t dump worm castings around a squash bg infested zucchini plant and expect it to kill them, if you have really good soil with proper microorganisms, some of those microorganisms will inhibit pests and make the plants less susceptible to infestation as well as help the plant to generally be more thrifty and fruitful…..But evidently, you can’t say that any thing is good for anything any longer without paying boat loads of money to some agency to have them verify that there is some science based fact that they recognize as valid. Kind of like when Diamond Walnuts said that walnuts are good for your health and was fined quite heavily by the FDA.

On August 16th, Hahn was found guilty of not registering worm castings as a pesticide with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (so he could validate making any claims about it) and fined $100,000 for this violation. Pacific Legal Foundation is appealing and, if there is any reason left in this world (LOL), they will prevail.


It appears that in the not too distant future mothers across the country may be thrown in jail for telling their children to eat their vegetables because they are “good for them”. Apparently the only legitimate way to nutritionally distinguish a twinkie from broccoli may rest on the FDA and their enforcement abilities, and differentiating between milk and oil and worm poop and Sevin Dust is on the EPA. Since the FDA approves GMO’s and says nanoparticles haven’t yet caused a problem and are therefore acceptable, and took 30 years to finally concede that vitamin C may strengthen the immune system, I’m sure we can all be content with any federal or state agencies thinking on our environment and health.

Every day there appears to another travesty of justice occurring, and I find that the refrain from that old Talking Heads song runs regularly through my mind….”and you may ask yourself, “Self, How did I get here?” I guess the answer is via regulations. Sheesh.


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