If, however, in the process of decay, some of the contained nitrogen is set free in the atmosphere and is later fixed electrically at a power plant such as Muscle Shoals, will it still be organic-or inorganic? How can a molecule of "organic" nitrogen be distinguished from one that is purely "inorganic"?
Next let us examine fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere. The most avid proponent of natural products could not object to nitrogen fixed as an oxide by lightning in the atmosphere. This is certainly as "natural" a product as one could imagine. Yet no man in his right mind would argue that air is organic unless he happened to be riding in the New York subway in rush hour. Even clovers when they extract nitrogen with the help of bacteria must absorb a product which was originally pure nitrogen gas, without a particle of carbon in it-definitely a chemical in every way. When, however, this nitrogen is converted into protein by clover plants, the original particle is there, unchanged in any way. At what point is the changeover made? Does combination with sulfur and half a dozen other chemicals, plus the process of growth, make the nitrogen any better or change the nature of its molecule? Unless organocultists can prove plants split atoms and recombine elements in new forms, they must logically admit that one nitrogen product is an exact duplicate of another.
About the only consistent point with organocultists is that they seem to prefer complex materials rather than simple, uninvolved combinations of only two or three chemicals. Is it because plant wastes are more complex in structure that they are superior to ammonium nitrate, for example? There is one grain of truth here that bears discussion. Because it is complex, such an organic waste substance might be more complete and contain one or more elements not included in a chemical plant food. At the same time it cannot be denied that every element found in organic matter can also be supplied in mineral or chemical form; indeed, as we know, plants are incapable of absorbing the nutrients in the original complex form.
If complexity is part of their credo and complex substances are necessarily better than simple ones, how then do organocultists explain water? Here is a simple chemical-a combination of two atoms of hydrogen with one of oxygen, without which life would be impossible. Yet surely the most avid organic proponent would not dare to call water organic.