Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ortho Elementals is a LIE!

Yesterday thanks to Mike I learned about a tactic called Greenwashing. It's basically deceptive marketing to make people think a product is certified organic or all natural and safe. So yesterday I learned that the few Organic Choice products I had picked up are not really organic. Damint! I am going to either toss out what's left or take it to a S.A.F.E. disposal site. Of course that doesn't undo the fact that such product is already in my soil :/

Anyway, after the learning I soaked up yesterday I returned to my computer with a fresh brain today... and started thinking about the coupon Home Depot emailed to me yesterday... A biy one get one free for any 32 oz. Ortho Elementals.  I had looked up what the product was briefly yesterday to see one (there are four types listed on HD's site) was an "organic" insecticidal soap. I was thinking of getting it this weekend.

This morning I decided to investigate this product a little. It turned into much more than a little and I am not happy at all (except that I didn't buy it). I sent what I found off to Green UPGRADER and Mike, and I was gonna wait for more experienced people to look into it... but I'm so pissed I'm sharing now! All emphasis in quoted text is mine.

So here's our culprit:

Notice that big blank green area at the bottom of the sticker?
Remember that for later...

So the most important info gained from Home Depot's site is the following:
  • If you click the Zoom View link to read the labels you find -
    •  The white sticker on the spray head reads "MAY BE USED UP TO DAY OF HARVEST"
    • One the main label sticker it reads "For organic gardening"
  • Product Description tab has the following statement: " "The soap can be used up to the day of harvest and is organic for safe use" and "Organic formula for safe use in your garden"
  • Specifications tab states: "Organic : No" <---- RED FLAG PEOPLES!
Um, that's some kinda contradiction there. Is it organic or no? Also the use of the word "harvest" here obviously implies they expect you to use this product on your veggie, herb and fruit plants. So it has to be safe right? Off to the manufacturer's website!


 This product is owned by Scotts! On that subject let's just say Scotts=Miracle Grow=Round-Up=MONSANTO for now...

On to Scotts info on the Ortho Elementals Insecticidal Soap.  First the product's General tab states "does not persist in the environment, can be used for organic gardening" and under the Details & Usage tab subheading Benefits "For organic gardening" I also found a link on this product's page to a PDF of the product labeling. The one saving factor I find is a note that "THIS FILE IS NOT PRODUCTION READY". So there may have been changes before the final labels that appear on the product were printed. That said:
  • PDF Page 1 (FRONT LABEL): states "For Organic Gardening"and has the OMRI Listed trademark in what is a blank green area in the picture from Home Depot and Scott's product page for this item. This area also includes active ingredient info and some typical warnings.
The rest of the PDF pages include info for label you can't see in pics of the product online and would probably only read after your took it home including the instructions for use:
  • PDF Page 2 (BOOK-OUTSIDE VIEW): "May be applied to edibles up to day of harvest."
  • PDF Page 3 (BOOK-INSIDE VIEW PAGE 2): "May used on edible crops up to and including day of harvest."; "For use...on: fruit and nut tress (e.g., apples, cherries, peaches, pears, pecans, almonts); corn; soybeans; melons; tomatoes; vegetables (e.g., beans, cabbage, cucurbits, peas, potatoes); figs; small fruits (e.g., grapes, strawberry, rasberry); citrus..."
  • PDF Page 5 (the spray head sticker): "MAY BE USED UP TO DAY OF HARVEST L0270356000"
Please note - I have not physically seen a bottle of Ortho Elements yet to see if the above statements from Scott's product website made it all the way to print. I am going to try to stop by a Home Depot today to check it out and will update this post after that.

***UPDATE - I have physically seen this product***

So Scott's really WANTS you to use this on your edible plants. No way that they can deny that after seeing this label info final or not. And since their label is at some point intended to include the OMRI Listed endorsement... off to!

On the Organic Materials Review Institute's site under the info for Ortho Elementals Insecticidal Soap I found the following Restriction for this product's use cleared stated on the drop-down tab:

"May be used as an algicide/demosser, herbicide or insecticide if the requirements of 205.206(e) are met, which requires the use of preventative, mechanical, physical, and other pest, weed, and disease management practices. When used as an herbicide may only be used for farmstead maintenance (roadways, ditches, right of ways, building perimeters) and ornamental crops, nonfood crop uses only; use on any food crop or fallow fields is prohibited."

Holy CRAP! As of this moment it is blatantly apparent to me that Scotts is not only misleading, they are flat out LYING about this product, and probably the other Elementals product as well. I admit I don't know enough about OMRI and their standards, etc. to know if this means this a truly organic product or not - but the fact that it's PROHIBITED TO USE ON ANY FOOD CROP leads me to strongly believe it is not. In fact, it also lacks and USDA Certified Organic labeling either.

So in case you didn't guess - I'm not buying the product. I'm going home to quarantine anything I can find labelled Ortho, Miracle Grow or Scotts in the garage (though dad shall be pissed that includes his grass seed). I don't know how or why OMRI has restricted it from use on edible plants. I don't really care at this point, because if that is the most up to date info OMRI has on the product, then Scotts is LYING and very possible PUTTING THE CONSUMER AT RISK by pushing this product on your organic edible garden.

I'm gonna contact my local Home Depot's about this and the nurseries I visit as well.

Shame on you Scotts.



  1. UHG! Thanks Mary! I am making my first attempt at organic gardening. I found this product at Wal-Mart and was really happy about it. But, I decided I better check it out just to be on the safe side. I'm glad I did. I assure you that if I had of known they kept company with Monsanto, I wouldn't care how organic it was, I would not have bought it. I went to OMRI myself. I am SOOO mad about this! Wal-Mart WILL be getting this junk back. As much as I hate to admit it, one good thing did come of this purchase... I found your blog. Thanks again.

  2. well you're welcome for the info! with every supplier of gardening goods trying to get their foot in the door with the organic movement it is easy to forget that we can end up supporting the same companies we're trying to get away from :p glad to have you here! you can follow my current projects at my new blog at :)

  3. Thanks so much for the info! Glad that I've not used this yet. I will be returning this to Walmart.

  4. Hi- I too recently (yesterday) bought this product ( Ortho Elementals Slug and Snail Killer) and just before opening it, I decided to check and see what was really in it, and if it was truly organic ( my search was "is ortho elementals truly organic?") and I was brought to here, your blog, Thank you so much for saving me and my family from polluting my new garden. We are trying to go organic and reduce our meat consumption to humane and natural suppliers ( havent found the onje yet but we intend to ) and raising my first vegetable garden this year. I appreciate your sharing your research and now know not to trust the label "organic" without more research...Many thanks- Crystal

  5. I am so glad to find this blog. I bought the elements pesticide to use in my vegetable garden. (I didn't have my reading glasses at the store so couldn't read the label till home). Not happy. If it is organic and supposedly safe for vegetables (which is on the front picture). Why are that also saying it is toxic, harmful if gotten on skin, breathed, swallowed, etc. and you have to despise of it as with any other hazardous chemical. It is a copper octane ate solution

  6. I was freaked out after I read this blog, with my bottle of slug an snail killer next to me and the garden disease control...but then looked at the OMRI website and of the elementals products these two appeared okay to use. the ones that are "killers" either insect or weed did not look like they were okay to use.
    happy gardening.

  7. my family is trying out organic gardening and only buying meat that's come from an ethical/humane supplier. I found an excellent website called that provides info on farms in every state that (say) that they employ humane raising of farm animals. There is some excellent info there on the misleading labels such as "free range chickens" and "grass fed" or "free range" cattle, which give consumers the impression that the animals are able to meander freely in the pasture. Yet the USDA only requires that to have such a label, the chickens must not be caged - so the chickens are still stuffed in a tiny, filthy structure, never seeing the light of day. And it means that cattle aren't chained in front of a trough their entire life - yet they can still be made to stand knee-deep in excrement in a tiny area and legally be called 'free range". What people really want is "prairie raised" animals - which are able to graze freely in a prairie. I can't remember what the terminology is for chickens, but it's on the website.

  8. Glad to be of service and to hear that!

  9. Glad to help keep it out of your soil!
    Good luck! I've been working on that just by reducing how much meat I eat, especially red. I've been looking for pastured chicken and eggs for months and they don't have it in my area, but I try to go organic.

  10. I'm gonna have to check out that site, thank you! I think for chickens it's 'pastured' which I haven't been able to find in stores so far :/

  11. Thanks for coming by! It can be difficult to find products that are organic AND non toxic to use as pesticides and fungicides. Most things work as pesticides and/or fungicides specifically because of their toxicity :p So far the most non-toxic to pets and humans insecticide I know of is homemade insecticidal soap, but that only goes so far. You can find fungicides that have copper as the active ingredient like you saw, or sulfur. Those are pretty much safe in the garden as long as you don't swallow of course. The trick is using just enough and still remembering to wash your produce when you harvest it :)

  12. Oh please don't freak! I know it can be scary sometimes, though usually my reaction is to get mad at the manufacturers. Just do due diligence :)
    The safest snail/slug product I know of is Sluggo though I haven't used it myself. I haven't seen the Ortho ones, but I wouldn't buy any product from them anyways.

  13. I really wish I would have researched this item before I bought it! I purchased the one for flowers , vegetables, trees shrubs etc. I've already used it on a cabbage my daughter has (garden project). I'm very disappointed. Thank you for the info.

  14. You have mis-read the label and the OMRI listing. insecticidal soaps are DEFINITELY allowed in certified organic agriculture, including the uses you characterize as lies. the restrictions you cite are for herbicidal soaps, not insecticidal soaps (and yes, they are different).

    Also, soaps are well known to be completely and rapidly biodegradable, often in as little as 24 hours. the EPA reference on this is:, see 'Environmental and Ecological Risk Assessment' on page 3.

  15. Good post!

    Good organic suppliers don't hide their ingredients, they brag about them!

    It is completely impossible for Ortho, Scotts, Miracle-Gro (all same company) to tell the truth about anything.

    Is this a bad time to tell you that Miracle-Gro's organic potting soil isn't organic either.

    The same product is sold under the "Fiesta Turf Weed Killer" label and by Gardens Alive under the "Iron X" label.

    Doesn't iron dissolved in hydroxyethylenediaminetriacetic acid to form a iron salt sound organic?

    Doesn't "HEDTA" sound "Greener" than "hydroxyethylenediaminetriacetic acid"?

    Maybe a butterfly or two on the label would help?


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