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Saturday, January 28, 2023
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New York State Legalizes Turning Human Bodies into Fertilizer

'Human bodies are not household waste, and we do not believe that the process meets the standard of reverent treatment of our earthly remains...'

(Headline USADemocratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation on Saturday to legalize natural organic reduction, popularly known as human composting, making New York the sixth state in the nation to allow that method of burial.

Washington state became the first state to legalize human composting in 2019, followed by Colorado and Oregon in 2021, and Vermont and California in 2022.

The process goes like this: the body of the deceased is placed into a reusable vessel along with plant material such as wood chips, alfalfa and straw. The organic mix creates the perfect habitat for naturally occurring microbes to do their work, quickly and efficiently breaking down the body in about a month’s time.

The end result is a heaping cubic yard of nutrient-dense soil amendment, the equivalent of about 36 bags of soil, that can be used to plant trees or enrich conservation land, forests, or gardens.

For urban areas such as New York City where land is limited, it can be seen as a pretty attractive burial alternative.

The New York State Catholic Conference, a group that represents bishops in the state, has long opposed the bill, calling the burial method “inappropriate.”

“A process that is perfectly appropriate for returning vegetable trimmings to the earth is not necessarily appropriate for human bodies,” Dennis Poust, executive director of the organization, said in a statement.

“Human bodies are not household waste, and we do not believe that the process meets the standard of reverent treatment of our earthly remains,” he said.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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