Column: Are We Consuming Sewage Sludge?

Gary Feldman

Everything flushed down the toilet or dumped by industry, whatever runs off into our waterways, all becomes sewage sludge. This includes toxic chemicals sprayed on our food crops, human waste, animal waste from factory farms, pharmaceuticals, hospital disposals, bacteria, viruses, jet fuel and plastics. You name it, it can enter the public water supply.

Due to weak laws that favor industry rather than the health of the consumer, and antiquated filtration systems, the abundance of toxins overwhelms the means of eliminating them. So where do they end up? In the water we drink and wash with and use to fertilize our crops.

If everyone cared to understand what has happened to our food supply, who owns and controls it and the ongoing interventions in nature’s process, we would understand more of what is behind many of the major developments and crises occurring in the United States and around the world.

Gene-edited plants, and even gene-edited factory farm animals, are being hyped as the answer to many of our food and agricultural problems, including the need to feed the ever-growing global population. The same promises were made back in the 1990s, during the first generation of genetically modified (GM) food crops.

Three decades later, 99 percent of all GM crop seeds are engineered in labs to have two distinctive traits. They are herbicide tolerant, to enable the plants to survive being heavily sprayed with highly toxic weedkillers. They are also tolerant to sprays that are used to kill insects, and in the process, our pollinators—Honey Bees, Monarch Butterflies and others that are being decimated.

What did all this technology accomplish?

Herbicidal toxins engineered into GM crop seeds have led to ever-escalating herbicide use, and the dangerous spread of herbicide-resistant “superweeds.” What is the chief herbicide ingredient? Glyphosate, classified by the World Health Organization as a probable carcinogen. You may know of it as “Roundup,” the popular weed killer that many Long
Islanders use on their lawns. Where does Roundup wind up? Roundup runs into our groundwater and aquifers.

Where did all this lead?

Findings point to ways, previously unknown, that bacteria may become resistant to life-saving antibiotics. The antibiotic genes that are inserted into genetically modified food crop seeds are now able to withstand our primitive conventional wastewater treatment plants. These findings are contained in a research paper, “Researchers find persistence of antibiotic-resistant GMO genes in sewage sludge,” a Duke University study published in The Journal of Biotechnology and Bioengineering in 2019, as well as many other journals.
For example, about 130 crop lines, which include an abundance of GM crop varieties of fruit, vegetables and grains, do contain such genes. When people consume lab-created food containing these genes, this genetic material moves through our digestive systems, which in turn is released into the environment and, of course, into our wastewater treatment plants. Our local municipal wastewater treatment plants are only as good as their filtration systems.

Antibiotic resistance, adopted by bacteria in response to interactions with the multitude of pharmaceuticals taken by the population as well as those given to animals on factory farms, ever-increasing around the world, tremendously threatens the ability to treat simple common infections and illnesses.

For instance, staphylococcus bacteria in sewage are stressed, but not destroyed, when they come in contact with antibiotics. The result is more antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

What is done with all this waste?

“Biosolid” is an industrial term for sewage sludge that has been treated in a wastewater facility. About half of the biosolids produced in the U.S. from wastewater treatments are used as agricultural fertilizers, providing a potential pathway through our entire environment for toxic waste. Farmers who use biosolids and sewage to water and fertilize crops, unfortunately, are not required to disclose this information to consumers. When undisclosed, their land is being polluted in secret.

Cattle used for human food are fed biosolids, which is highly contaminated feed. Cattle that forage on biosolids are taken to feedlots and factory farms before anybody even knows it. If the animal can walk into the feedlot, the processors are going to use the animal as consumption, no matter how sick it is.

Sewage was designed to be put in landfills, not on America’s farmlands. The Environmental Protection Agency documents and admits to the fact that regulatory authorities claim they don’t know for sure what is being dumped.

Our ecosystem is at the mercy of the biosolids industry as heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, fracking chemicals and many more toxins have become ubiquitous in our water. Therefore, everything and everyone that lives off of anything that grows is threatened with disease, death and probable extinction.

—Gary Feldman

Gary Feldman is a researcher, health writer, nutrition educator and lecturer and instructor in the Port Washington Union Free School District Continuing Education program.


  1. Gary, please continue to report on the dangers of the use of bio-solids on farm land and commercial use. We are being affected in our community now, by a ten million gal. bio-solid earthen lined storage lagoon, less then 1/2 mile from my home. Water contamination is of great concern to us, as well as nasty odor. Thank you for your research on these bio-solids and their harmful effects.

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