Worm castings: sometimes a nature’s miracle, sometimes a dangerous pesticide


Author: Timothy Sandefur

We’ve blogged before about the case of George Hahn, who was recently fined $100,000 by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for selling a fertilizer made out of worm castings—because the state claims it’s a pesticide. The Department argues that the law forbids Mr. Hahn from saying that plants fed with worm castings can resist infestation by pests, because his doing so makes his product into a pesticide under the law, and requires him to get his product licensed as a pesticide. In other words, the following statement is, in their view, a violation of California law:

Healthy plants more easily resist pests.  Good soil grows healthy plants.  And earthworms help make good soil

But these sentences don’t come from George Hahn’s advertising. They come from a publication that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prints up for children.

Meanwhile, CalEPA has this interesting item on their website:

Under-desk vermiculture bins (compost bins with worms growing in them) will be maintained by some staff….  The organic waste produced will be used in the courtyard flowerbeds.  Integrated Waste Management Board staff has been practicing vermiculture since 1992….

In other words, CalEPA is using worm castings in the flowerbeds outside of the very same building where, last year, they fined George Hahn $100,000 for selling worm castings.