But the way organocultists use the statistics reminds me of the time I "proved" statistically that a decline for a certain period in the American birthrate was due to increased sales of electrical refrigerators because, on the chart, one curve dropped at the same rate that the other climbed. Arguments that chemical fertilizers cause disease are about as valid. The government's death figures are accurate but the organocultists' interpretation is not.
What is actually happening is that we are saving more young people and extending the life span of the middle-aged and older people so that everyone lives longer, only to succumb to degenerative diseases such as heart failure and cancer which otherwise might never have been able to attack. Federal figures on median age at death are convincing proof that a false use is being made of vital statistics. If the organocultist-type of logic is permissible, are not advocates of chemical fertilizers justified in claiming that striking declines in deaths from smallpox and pneumonia are due to increased use of non-organic (chemical) plant foods? Imagine the poor gardener, faced with extravagant claims of organocultists on one hand and an advertisement on the other which reads, "Why die of pneumonia? Grow cabbage with ammonium sulfate and live!"
There is an amusing side to the organic gardening cult's refusal to recognize the identical nature of elements in chemical and organic plant nutrients. I have in my file a card that offers me FREE, as a bonus for subscription to a venerable organoculture journal, A SOIL TEST KIT! Presumably this test kit includes the usual chemical reagents (at least I have not heard of any kits that use organic reagents). Since such simple kits cannot differentiate between chemical and organic elements, I am afraid the editors have made a horrible admission.
WHAT CAUSED THE ORIGINAL ERROR?
Anyone who has given any thought to the conflicting claims in this controversy must have tried to figure out what happened to Sir Albert Howard's powers of observation. I am going to venture a guess. What probably set Sir Albert thinking was his observation of the effects of sodium nitrate on soils. Nitrate of soda, as it is called in the trade, was and is a favorite source of nitrogen among British gardeners. It produces effects that might well support claims made against all chemicals.
When used regularly on clay soils, this chemical causes almost immediate deflocculation of the clay. That is, the electrical charges holding clay to lime particles are neutralized and sodium carbonate is formed. The result is a greasy, hard-to-work soil which closely matches the organocultists' dark pictures of chemically-fed gardens. So, if you must use nitrate of soda, do so never oftener than once a year. Better yet, use ammonium nitrate which leaves no harmful residue.