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What happens when fertilizer claims are fraught with fraud

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Outlandish product claims by fertilizer companies can land them in hot water with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, as a California business has recently found out:

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Oregon’s Fertilizer Program is primarily geared towards consumer protection, says ODA’s Don Wolf. It starts by requiring that all fertilizer products are registered and goes from there:

WOLF:  “We try and make sure that they are fairly represented on the label, that the claims are consistent with what the company states is in the product, and that the claims are consistent with what the consumer can expect that product to do.”  :13

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ODA has stopped the sale of two products out of California that have been sold in hydroponic stores. Lab analysis showed the products contained significant amounts of a plant growth regulator– which is considered a pesticide and can’t be applied on food crops or animal feed:

WOLF:  “It had potential hazards to humans that were not listed on the label. It didn’t have proper cautionary information. So it was mislabeled and it was adulterated.” :10

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Wolf maintains that the plant growth regulator was added to the fertilizer product intentionally. The company faces the potential of a 10-thousand dollar fine if it is found to have sold the product in Oregon again and could face federal enforcement action. Wolf emphasizes that most fertilizer companies are doing things properly, but ODA’s team of investigators sometimes find products with fraudulent claims. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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JANET FULTS, who supervises ODA’s Fertilizer Program, says there are more than 78-hundred fertilizer products registered in Oregon– the highest number on record.– with hydroponics one of the fastest growing areas:

“It keeps increasing because of these specialty markets and these specialty products out there that are usually very expensive for the quantity that you are purchasing.”  :13

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WOLF is hoping the action taken against the California company will help curb some of the illegal claims made about some fertilizer products:

“We take the consumer protection function very seriously. When it gets beyond economic protection to protecting health and safety, then we take it even more seriously.”  :11

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