For decades, government agencies and polluters have cynically and dangerously used the magic of PR to reclassify toxic sludge as "beneficial fertilizer," and thus haul it to rural farmlands where it is spread on fields out of sight, out of mind. CMD's John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton wrote the first major expose of this practice in their 1995 book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You. Now the Kansas Star reports on a Missouri lawsuit claiming "that a St. Joseph tannery had allowed sludge containing a carcinogen to be used as fertilizer on fields in four counties, causing brain tumors in at least two patients. Because of a state law, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has not been sampling the contents of the sludge -- the waste from the tanning process. That is because the law allowed officials years ago to declare the sludge a fertilizer. As a result, that left most of the responsibility for regulating the sludge to the University of Missouri -- but only as a fertilizer, not as a hazardous waste."
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