Friday, June 10, 2011

Ortho Elementals - More Questions than Answers

Yesterday I wrote about the lies that Ortho put on their Elementals Insecticidal Soap. I also emailed the info to Green UPGRADER and today they've got the info up also.

On my way home last night I stopped at one of the Home Depots I sometimes shop in to see if the final labeling of the product is the same as on Scotts website. Look like yes, if there were any changes they weren't to the info I'm concerned about. Red outlines by me.

Product on the shelf. Includes the "MAY BE USED UP TO DAY OF HARVEST" and OMRI Listed labeling.

"May be applied to edibles up to day of harvest"

Thanks for telling me which foods you want me to use this on Ortho.

I did a little (or rather a LOT) of thinking on this last night. I went back to ORMI's website to look more into them (after all, I've only known of them for a day or two). I am thinking on their statements on their About page

screenshot from OMRI - Copyright © 2010 OMRI

  So this insecticide could be used for a USDA certified organic farm... You know this leads me to think that a small scale farmer - like a local farmer's market vendor - could see this product on the shelf, spot the OMRI logo on the label and assume it was perfect for their organic produce. Especially since the packaging of the product is screaming at you to use it on your food from every angle. A small scale grower might even look it up on OMRI's website to make sure it's organic. And if that grower looked up this product on OMRI's site they'd see this:

 screenshot from OMRI - Copyright © 2010 OMRI

Farmers are people, and people aren't perfect. It's reasonable to assume that a farmer large or small scale might see the above result for their search for Ortho Elementals Insecticidal Soap and accept that as OMRI's approval - then go ahead and use the product just like its instructions say to... on the organic crops he/she is growing for consumers who want certified organic produce. What that farmer might miss (because we all make mistakes) is the info when you click the drop down for this product and the restriction against food crop usage:

screenshot from OMRI - Copyright © 2010 OMRI

I am more confused than ever about this. Why would OMRI approve something for organic growing - for products farmers can use to grow USDA certified organic produce - but not directly on that produce? Why would they allow their OMRI Listed logo to be used on that product's label if the label is also specifying the consumer to use it in a way not consistent with their approval restrictions?

When did I start sounding like an adult?

Sorry, tangent thought there. Their About info also has me thinking about OMRI. It says (and you can see in one of the screenshots above) they are non-profit and receive funding through donations, and "generates income through fees collected for the review of products intended for use in organic production or processing." For some reason this gives me a chill and reminds me of the USDA's deregulation process for Monanto's GMOs.

I am trying to find answers now. Unfortunately OMRI doesn't list an email address for questions. They have an online inquiry form that I filled out, but couldn't submit because their Captcha engine isn't working (it's not even showing up) and I keep getting error messages that the Captcha I entered being incorrect (can't even see or type one).

I have sent an email off to Scotts through their website reading:

I was considering using your Elementals Insecticidal Soap product in my edible container garden. I am working towards a fully organic growing method and by this point I am only buying organic products. Preferable ones I make myself, are certified organic, or approved for USDA certified organic operations. This is just my own personal garden, I'm not selling any produce from it, but I want to make is as pure as I can.

I first heard of the Elementals line through Home Depot. I was happy to see on their (and your) website that it is safe for use on edibles and for organic growing. But then I noticed another info section on Home Depot's site that said it was not organic. I double checked Scotts product page which says it is.

I then checked OMRI since the product labeling states this item is ORMI Listed and found the following use restriction: "nonfood crop uses only; use on any food crop or fallow fields is prohibited." But your product clearly says it is food safe. Why does your ORMI approval depend on it not being used on food crops? If I understand OMRI's usage correctly, it means that this item would only be ok for USDA certified organic growing standards if I don't use it on edibles.

Would you please clarify this for me? I need an insecticidal soap for the summer, but it must be safe for my edibles.

Thank you,
Mary C.

That's non-threatening enough, no?

I think I'm going to continue to update on this...


  1. I can't wait to see how they respond, Mary. It's gotten to the point where I no longer trust anything or anyone. Isn't that a shame? Baking soda and vinegar are even said to screw things up. What's one to do? I wish Jefferson were around to tell us all how he managed.

  2. I know, it's ridiculous. Most companies just don't care to be responsible
    about the long-term effects of their products. Hell, many don't even care to
    make quality products either. *sigh*


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