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Oregon On The Lookout For Fertilizer Fraud

SALEM, Ore. – The state of Oregon is on the lookout for fraudulent fertilizer. State regulators say it’s a growing problem for indoor gardeners. The Oregon Department of Agriculture recently cracked down on a California company that it says was selling a potentially harmful product.

The number of fertilizer products for sale in the Northwest has exploded in the past decade. Many are aimed at people raising plants indoors. And we’re not just talking about tomatoes and cucumbers.

Many fertilizer products are used to cultivate marijuana. Photo courtesy DEA
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Many fertilizer products are used to cultivate marijuana. Photo courtesy DEA

"It's for growing marijuana. Let's be blunt about it," says Matt Haynes, a fertilizer specialist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

He says the problem that state investigators like him are finding is that some of these products are laced with certain pesticides that haven't been tested for human consumption.

So after the harvest, "There's residues of this material on the product," Haynes says. "What happens when they smoke it? Who the heck knows?"

Haynes says he suspects the California case represents just the tip of the iceberg. The company that manufactures the banned fertilizer did not respond to a request for comment. But its website calls the product "Viagra for plants."

On the Web:

Oregon Dept. of Agriculture fertilizer program:

http://cms.oregon.gov/ODA/pest/Pages/fertilizer.aspx

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.