Entrepreneur and agriculturist, George Hahn, had whiteflies on his hibiscus. Lovely colored petals on his perfect plants were being consumed by the flying pests. Like many natural remedies, a good way to keep away undesirables is to surround the valued entity with a bad smell. George sprinkled worm poop around his hibiscus plants and watched the whiteflies go away.
George now produces worm poop commercially. (Officially, it’s worm castings, the nice words for worm poop.) His company is called California Vermiculture and his worm castings product is called Worm Gold.
It is a marketer’s prerogative to call worm poop as worm castings, or worm gold, or any other apt term for the product. George did. He called his product a fertilizer, because it is.
George advertised his product as he observed its effects: that the whiteflies go away when hibiscus plants are surrounded by a smell the flies don’t like. Furthermore, the plants grow well and produce incredible blooms from the nutritional value of worm poop. It’s a fertilizer that’s good for the plant but smelly to the flies.
But the EPA smells something different. Both the Federal EPA and California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (CA DPR) think it’s a pesticide. Anybody can see that they got that completely wrong, because the worm poop isn’t killing anything, not even the pests.
If anything, Worm Gold makes things grow. It’s just a little smelly, like people get after eating garlic or not taking a shower. And we don’t call such smelly people killers, do we?
But the ‘angry cultural’ authorities of the Great State of California dubbed Worm Gold a killer of pests—a pesticide–even though it’s not. They’ve stretched their domain to include the regulation of natural products, even if it’s poop, and miscalculated its mode of action. Both the EPA and CA DPR…all they want is for George to kowtow to their power and register his product as a pesticide so they can control his poop.
George is having none of it, standing on poop principle, declaring the worm castings as the plant growth enhancer it is and killing nothing at all, not even pests.
Further research on this subject revealed a revealing comment from the EPA: “We would be regulating water if it were to be used to remove pests.” How about that for spinning out EPA’s span of control?
George Hahn has been slapped with a $100,000 fine from CA DPR for non-registration of Worm Gold as a pesticide, even though it’s a fertilizer. So much for truth in advertising.
One last rhetorical question: Who’s out of control here, the EPA, CA DPR, George Hahn, the hibiscus, or the whiteflies?