Composting chief tells The Sun they have got it wrong

The Composting Association has fought back against claims on the gardening pages of The Sun newspaper that composting is a danger to the public's health.

In an article published earlier this month, The Sun raised concerns over the safety of compost and Sun columnist, Peter Seabrook questioned the safety of all 'green' composts and said: “Do you want to risk being stabbed by a junkie’s needle next time you’re in the garden? Neither do I — which is why it is time to stop the headlong rush to recycle. Such composted waste from local councils — who collect residents’ garden and kitchen refuse or recycle their own leaves and mowings from parks and verges — could seriously damage your health and that of your garden.”

The article continued that the use of green composts could lead to the widespread recycling of diseases such as club root and white rot of onions although it did recognise the potential benefits of composting and said: “The need to compost and re-use green waste to reduce the demand on landfill sites is obvious.”

Responding to the article, the Composting Association has disputed The Sun's statements and the tabloid has today (February 28) published a letter from Dr Jane Gilbert, chief executive of the Composting Association. The letter reads: “Your gardening page story headlined “Safety fears over 'green' compost” will have caused unwarranted concern. It is wrong to suggest that compost contains plant diseases or even hypodermic needles. Of the one million cubic metres of compost sold during the last ten years, none has been found to contain a hypodermic needle. Also, treatment ensures that virtually all pathogens are destroyed.”

The Composting Association has now issued a statement which explains how during production, compost is heated and turned according to regulations so that virtually all pathogens are destroyed. Dr Gilbert concluded: “Compost is the perfect environmentally-sound soil improver or mulch and one which has been used for time immemorial by gardeners, growers and farmers. Compost has the dual benefits of being natural and of performing well. As one organic gardener put it: “Everything that has lived can live again in another plant”. Compost is the natural, 'green' alternative.”

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