Spirulina — Organic vs All Natural Hawaiian
Another critical development took place just before the second edition of this book was published. In October 2002 the US National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to continue to allow the use of mined Chilean nitrate in Spirulina production until October 2005. (Chilean nitrate is an all natural, water soluble form of nitrogen used in the production of Organic Spirulina.) Unfortunately, the USDA organic production regulations are directed at terrestrial farming and do not address the unique position occupied by aquatic farming of crops such as Spirulina.
Production of Spirulina requires water soluble forms of phosphorus and nitrogen. This is not desired in terrestrial farming as soluble forms of phosphorous and nitrogen can harm the soil and contaminate ground water. On the other hand, this is not a problem in Spirulina production because all culture ponds are lined and there is no runoff or contamination of ground water. The NOSB voted to disallow the use of Chilean nitrate in October 2005 as it can lead to contamination of ground water and is mined and thus not consid- ered a sustainable source of nitrogen.
With Chilean nitrate prohibited in all organic production systems, an alternative source of organic soluble nitrogen must be found. The only sources of soluble nitrogen allowed under organic regulations are compost teas of animal and plant waste material and various manures. The scientists at Cyanotech have examined these potential sources of soluble nitrogen and found them unsatisfactory because they would:
1) Contaminate Spirulina with lead and other heavy metals
2) Increase the bacterial count in Spirulina
3) Produce inferior Spirulina products at a much higher cost
For these reasons, Cyanotech stopped production of organic Spirulina in October, 2005. Instead, Cyanotech is concentrating its efforts on continually improving the quality of All Natural Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica products.
In many ways standard Spirulina culture methods (not organic) are compatible with traditional organic growing systems. Spirulina does not create any ground water pollution or soil erosion since it is grown in lined ponds. Water and energy are used much more efficiently than in terrestrial agriculture use (including organic systems). Cyanotech’s All Natural Spirulina products are GMO free, are produced without the use of pesticides or herbicides, are produced using pure Hawaiian aquifer water and deep seawater as a source of trace minerals and use the patented Ocean ChillTM drying process to preserve oxygen sensitive nutrients. Hawaiian Spirulina from Cyanotech has the highest purity, and by far the highest nutritional value of any Spirulina available.
Cyanotech has heard that some foreign producers are going to continue to produce “organic Spirulina,” and our scientists do not believe that this can be done in an honest way and maintain any level of quality. For example, the non-organic Spirulina of one of these producers was tested at an independent laboratory. This laboratory’s test results showed that the Spirulina from this producer had very high levels of lead and other heavy metals as well as other quality concerns. Please remember that this was a non-organic product; when this farm switches to compost teas or animal manures as they claim to be doing to produce an organic product, Cyanotech’s scientists believe that their heavy metal and bac- terial levels will be off the charts.
Cyanotech and Earthrise Farms of California have been producing Spirulina the longest of any farms, and Cyanotech was the first to obtain organic certification, and Earthrise the second, under the old standard that allowed Chilean nitrate. These two leading farms have the greatest scientists and Spirulina production know-how of any producers in the world, and yet after over three years of research both Cyanotech and Earthrise decided that high quality Spirulina could not be produced under the new standard.
Excerpted the book SPIRULINA: Nature’s Superfood By Kelly Moorhead and Bob Capelli with Dr. Gerald R. Cysewski