Test identifies organic vegies

A senior researcher at New Zealand’s GNS Science has devised a test that can verify whether or not vegetables have been grown organically.

GNS Science’s Stable Isotope Laboratory in Lower Hutt researcher, Dr Karyne Rogers, has said that the method is an inexpensive way to verify the organic status of vegetables by distinguishing between vegetables grown with organic or industrially made fertilisers.

A criteria in growing organic vegetables is that only organic fertiliser, usually animal manure, is used. As vegetables grow, they incorporate nitrogen from the fertiliser and it is this nitrogen which is analysed. The nitrogen isotope signatures of animal manure and industrial fertiliser are quite different.

“It’s an independent check on the growing regime. As far as I am aware, this is the first simple reliable test for organic vegetables”, Dr Rogers said.

Clients can obtain results within 10 days of submitting samples, and the test can be done at any stage during vegetable growth. The test can also determine if vegetables are grown hydroponically, or naturally in soil.

A similar isotope technique using carbon can be used to determine if vegetables, such as tomatoes, have been grown in a greenhouse heated by fossil fuels.

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GNS Science

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