Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Garbage Enzyme - Ignorance? or just plain deceitful.

Again, were going to touch on that unhealthy practice - Garbage Enzyme.

No, i don't mean unhealthy like improper eating or things like that.
I mean mentally unhealthy. 

First up, I don't hold anything against people that are lead into thinking that they are helping society by using Garbage Enzyme.
Although misdirected, the intent they carry may be just as honest as mine.

It is the deception involved in that misdirection that i consider the carcinogen in this smoke cloud.

I blame the negligence of those that fervously promote Garbage Enzyme with no care to the underlying science behind it.

They wish to carry authority, but much of the time jump into the 'blissfully ignorant' safety net when unable to answer simple queries like "how does it work", and pointing their fingers to their straw men to fend off the annoying questions.

If you honestly have something as important as the improvement of the environment at heart, please do not choose to ignore the critical questions when they are raised.
The double standards practiced when taking up queries are truly shameful. Take up the responsibility please.

So why do i loathe the attitude of these quacks so much?
It is because they practice deliberate misdirection. Would i be so bold to make this claim?
"Yes"...and let me explain why.

In our correspondence, aside from the testimonial claims and other nonsense, one thing stood out to me:
Dr Joeann and her counterpart in Singapore has never held back the fact that they have done laboratory testing on Garbage Enzyme's efficacy.

Very bold claims when promoting something you don't even understand yourself.

They do however choose to hold back the results from parties with a questioning nature or critical eye. There had to be a catch somewhere.

When I asked to have a look at these "documents" that were being pushed around as proof of efficacy in the Garbage Enzyme circles, i was asked to go down to Singapore, at my own cost, to attend a seminar and let a Russian Enzymeologist whom they refused to name (i am NOT making this up) explain to me the details. Wow.

Anyway, to cut things short, after some talk and explaining how absurd me coming down for this would be when a simple email with the documents attached would suffice, Dr Joeann's counterpart from Singapore asked me to wait a couple of weeks for him to come down to Penang so he could explain the results better to me.

He was even saying how happy he was that there are people like me who are interested in helping others understand.
*//Should'nt those that are promoting this damned thing carry that responsibility in the first place? Bloody hell.//

So, since we were to meet, I asked him to forward the results my way first so that I, or someone more qualified, could read it and come up with the best possible questions for him when he finally comes down two weeks later. He then said he felt that he really needed to be there to explain it. Fine.

A month down the road and neither the test results or the trip to Penang happened.
Correspondence dropped off, and I still had no test results. It seemed the ignorance is bliss safety net button was pressed again. sigh*

I did luck out in the end though, as someone offered me those lab results which were being promoted in Garbage Enzyme workshops.
Ironically it came from someone within their own circles, who over time has begun to question the efficacy of the product.

First up: Mechem Consultancy test result

Description of sample:
"A sample said to be fruit, honey water (concentrated) drink was received" for testing.
The above results are tested as per sample submitted with reference to Singapore Food Regulation(2005) and found to be satisfactory.

Amazingly, there was nothing in the description to indicate that this was Garbage Enzyme, but what is more worrying is the test itself. This was to test if the sample submitted was safe to drink or not... NOT WHETHER IT HAS ANY HEALTH IMPACT.

Then we have the results from Analytical Consultancies (3 documents)

Tested: Green Detergent with Enzyme
Doc #1 looks at a 1:500(quite difficult to read this part) dilution of Green Detergent with Enzyme and compares it with Sewerage and Drainage Regulations (4th column in case unreadable)
Doc #2 tests the 1:200 dilution for arsenic, copper, lead and mercury.
Doc #3 is a microbiological examination

But NONE of them test if Enzyme DOES anything! Not the Mechem tests, or the 3 Analytical Lab ones. All they do is show that this is either meeting fair sewage criteria, or drinking safety criteria. Not a control sample in sight.

If they wanted, they could have just tested Green Detergent without Enzyme vs Green Detergent with Enzyme, or some better controls. Not even a slight effort to prove efficacy.
These documents exist solely for pushers to claim they have lab results.

It is immediately quite clear why i wasn't given the chance to review it even once before he came down, if coming to Penang ever was his intent.

I see this misdirection as a bad attempt to confuse the public.
It is further reinforced by the refusal by Dr Joean to return my emails.

From parents to teachers...it should be our gift to be able to provide our children the tools that will make them less gullible to simple tricks, instead we propagate the idea that research is not necessary since someone else seems to have done it first.

We should always question the methods of the research, lest we be taken for a ride.


  1. please post more...very interesting... another critisizer http://groups.google.com/group/GreenYes/browse_thread/thread/ce59cbe9a02ada23

  2. Hey Edgar... why the rant when products like these can't be taken seriously in the first place?

  3. Yo CK! :)
    Long time no see!

    The rant? because products like these ARE being taken seriously. See the link posted above by Anonymous(thank you anon,btw!) discussed article was taken from The Star.

    It also promotes the lazy mentality of wanting simple answers, which would eventually open the floodgates for more snake oil merchants in our market (remember the fuel saver magnets and other bullshit?)

    I guess its possible that this enzyme stuff is not that popular in KL and other states yet(tho i think it is) but in Penang it is reaching ridiculous levels as the state government endorses it.

    Garbage Enzyme aside, you still have a shitload of bullshit practices being pushed about regionally from homeopathy to energy pendants and what-not.

    If i am honest, i think the main reason i rant on these thing is because i want to stop seeing new snake oils being pushed around in Malaysia, and stop people around me from being taken for a ride.

    I have already seen a fair number of family and friends fall for these things.

    Its not just about 1 or 2 simple products. To help even 1 more person pick up a critical mindset and make a decision against any bullshit remedies would be sufficient for me.

    Cheers man!

  4. Good article and research. Reproductions of the actual lab reports were extremely useful! :)

  5. Excellent post! The science behind this has always been dubious and vague. Their "scientific explanations" are eyebrow-raising. The lab reports you posted confirmed my suspicions. Keep up the great work!

  6. Does God exist?
    Million believe He does. Proof it?!

    God gives man a gift, not only for the rich but anyone with fruits, honey and FAITH.

    For those who believe, it works. For those who don't it won't.

    To the British- everyone is a gentleman, unless proven crook. To the some other countries, eveyone is crook, unless proven innocent.

    So where does that lead us?

  7. Excellent point Anonymous.


    Since you put this as an issue of faith , should the state government be spending our money promoting this 'faith'?... Would't that just make them like UMNO where seperation of church and state is a joke?

    If someone came to my office to promote a new cult, should i allow him use of my canteen space to indoctrinate more people into it?
    Wouldn't my company appear to be supporting this new cult? Wouldn't that mean the other employees don't have a choice in this matter?

    If by your definition of faith, then placebo pills that work on some people who think they get real medicine is an 'ok' thing?

    Really? Its ok to sell someone fake pills if you feel its good for them? You don't find that being a problem?

    Faith. The problem with it is that you have to go against evidence or reasonable bounds of expectations just to make it seem possible.

    About your question on millions believing in God?... well, millions used to think the world was flat at one point in the past. Think about that.

  8. Give them the freedom to choose. At least it is proven not harmful. I shall stop here because this is your house and it seems that only supporters are welcome.

    You have your choice and freedom too...

  9. Sorry mate if you misunderstand me. I am happy to have supporters drop a note, but even happier to have someone of opposing views engage in further conversation.

    If we all shut up then no one, you or me, learns anything in the process.

    Yes, everyone has the freedom to choose. But it seems many are goaded into making uninformed decisions.

    If someone read this article and proceeded to try the thing anyway? then power be to him or her! Ive no beef with that for sure.

    At least they had more info from other's experiences to begin making their choices.

    Cheers :)
    I hope you really do hang around and comment a bit more. We will all be only better off with each others views in mind.

  10. garbage enzyme = organic acid, all in all, fermentation does occur, bacterias convert sugar into alcohol ( further turned to acetic acid by another species of bacteria ) so its 1 : 3 : 10 ratio of sugar : organic waste : water hence a weak acid is formed.

  11. the garbage enzyme is a bit overhyped, it does eliminate odors, i made a mistake of just mentioning about the weak acid being formed, bacterias itself has enzymes working for them to chemically alter or breakdown one form into another, http://science.howstuffworks.com/cellular-microscopic-biology/cell2.htm, the way they are encouraging garbage enzyme is not my cup of tea as well and i am more than willing to share my findings if you are interested, kimming.c@gmail.com

  12. Cheers mate. Sorry such a slow reply, been away :) thanks for commenting.

    Agree that its just vinegar (generally) but your 'enzymes used to breakdown' deduction needs to be looked at a bit. Mainly from the fact that there are thousands of different enzymes for different tasks. Are they all supposed to be in the Garbage Enzyme soup?

    Be glad to see what you have on the subject!!
    u have mail! ;)

  13. personally i doubt "they're all supposed to be in the Garbage Enzyme soup" but then again, practitioners are hoping to "rope" in whatever bacterias into the ferment thereby producing a multiple enzyme soup in good faith of releasing it into the environment encouraging a "sped up breakdown" rather than putrification breakdown which gives of foul odor as well as other toxins ( based on my logical explanation without proper backings )

  14. SunTzu : "The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger."

  15. Its good to talk to you mate.

    Don’t worry about me sounding angry, as its just my typing style sometimes, heh.
    I’m not really frustrated and hitting my key hard etc. Im in fact pretty calm about this mostly.

    Anyways, you raise a good point with the art-of-war comment.
    I will however disagree with it in this context tho, and my justification is as follows:

    There is no ‘attack’ in my plan.
    I have already come to grips with the fact that there are too many people already far too deep into these practices to convince otherwise.
    My game is to raise awareness, so that the younger more info-savvy crowd may stumble upon it when trying to make a decision if it’s worthwhile following people or not.

    It is unsettling to me that many people out there have made decisions on something just because there is a lack of information on it available.

    To give an analogy:
    I no longer smoke, and have no problem with people around me smoking, as they know what risks are involved.
    However, if I find someone smoking who believes it is good for health because someone told him so, then I would like to share the reasoning with that person on why it is not healthy.
    Armed with that knowledge, and then choosing to continue smoking, I will have no problem with his or her decision, as the decision made is now an informed one.

    Bottom line#2, people must be allowed to choose their own path in life.
    Bottom line#1, Only people who are making those choices based on lies should be offered a hand.

    I already consider it hopeful that there have been some reaction by the state government to not include Garbage Enzyme woo into the daily media since a number of months ago.

    Cheers man

  16. Hello Edgar, This sounds like a discussion on participatory democracy:
    1) All citizens have the right to vote (or decide) what is best for them.
    2) Citizens must have factual information on which to make those informed choices.
    Without factual information, there is no democracy, only mob-rule. You are making a case for fact based information.

  17. Hi MHB.

    Was surprised to see something pop up from this thread after so long, tho i do appreciate it :)

    Yes, in summary, you are correct. I am indeed in favor of people making decisions on fact based information.

    Best regards

  18. "Fervously" is not a word.

  19. Goddamit. Got my arse sniped by a grammar nazi >_< and a good one too.

    okok... no, i did not know 'fervously' was not a word, my bad! heh

    but u get me point :P

  20. If you are this interested in discovering the efficacy of garbage enzyme, why not approach several universities and see if you can find a way to have it tested yourself? Or speak to a chemist? Acids and enzymes are well understood in this day and age. Then you can report accurate findings yourself and help educate the public. Your post comes up in a search for "garbage enzyme"....perhaps you have an opportunity.

  21. Acids and Enzymes are well understood, i agree with you for sure.

    Specific enzymes have benefits in specific environments, i have NO DOUBT about that.

    That being said, I suspect I just may understand acids and enzymes a little bit more than you do if your wish is for it to be a magical miracle cure-all water that fixes everything.


    1. hello to all of you.

      i studied epistemology, an science history and so i´m interested in knowledge and science, and i think i at least have the minimum sense not to be indoctrinated, even by some kind of scientific indoctrination.

      Sometimes if an ignorant person(science methodology ignorant) finds something interesting, science indoctrinated people may say something like: who do you think you are...

      But the point to me is to know:
      Have you tried these enzymes?
      Its simple, its easy, its cheap.So i tried so that i can have an informed...

      I´m sure you haven´t tried, otherwise you wouldn´t talk like this. Is cleaning effect is amazing compared with lots of eco or non eco friendly detergents and cleaning agents/solutions.

      I´ve made bathches of lemon, orange, rice, papaia, pinneaple and mixes. I got really impressed with all of them - from cleaning floor, to clothes, odours (dog smell...).
      as you say there are lots of enzymes and there´s not a enzyme that fits all our cleaning 'wishes'. i´ve experienced orange better for odours than the rice one, but the rice one goes better at cleaning grease than the orange one.Its like car shampoo is better for cars, but you can clean your floor with it... it will clean better than just water...

      Give it a try!!! Maybe you can reduce by this way the ammount of toxic waste you do using 'normal' detergents.

      by the way: in medicine they do doble blind tests were 50% is placebo. ins´t it curious that in most part of cases more than 50% of the patients get better?

      Sorry if my english is not perfectly writen but i´m native on portuguese language.


  22. Cheers Pedro, thanks for commenting :)

    First things first, what makes you think i have not tried it?

    Yes, I actually have bottles upon bottles of the stuff in my house at one point (my parents were very very into it)

    I actually have tried it on many things myself too. For the most part, I am more aware of my bias when making judgement if something works or not. My parents don't use controls, but I do.

    An example: I washed half a batch of my clothes without enzyme first, then with enzyme on the second half. After that I asked my parents to tell me if there was any difference. same with mopping the floor, cleaning the garage floor (where my doggies poo) etc... the result of soap + enzyme are completely indistinguishable with soap alone.

    This is one reason why the doubt of the efficacy of this whole thing came into question.

  23. Well, this was mentioned by Dr Joeon Oon, in response about the scientific credibility of garbage enzymes:

    "People keep asking me what is the scientific evidence. They are doubtful, but I just ask them to try it out. You will know the difference. I did try to take it to the lab but the cost is really high. I thought I might as well spend the money on my flight tickets or renting venues or buying brown sugar. The best evidence is to try it out. If it cleans well, if your vegetables taste great after soaking in it, if your plants grow well after you use it as fertilizers, than it's good. You're saving money, you're reducing your wastes, and it's so easy to make. So there's really no reason why you should not do it."

    It may sound a little suspicious. But i do believe that considering from their perspective, even if they may not hold any scientific evidence with regards to garbage enzymes, as long as the "positive effects" can be seen: such as the removal of dirt, repulsion of insects and stuff, one would simply believe in it.

    Sometimes things may not require scientific evidences to prove that it is good. The visible effects that it brings about are good enough to prove the existence of its effectiveness. Majority of the sources which I find on internet tells me so (and support this product):

    "“The market used to smell as the council only cleans it once a week or once a month by spraying water. Since we started spraying the enzyme (diluted with water) daily, it is not so smelly and there are fewer flies. The drains are also cleaner,” says Tan who has been making full use of vegetable and fruit discards at the market.

    His home is filled with about 100 tanks, both big and small, of fermenting waste.

    “Some other hawkers are also making the enzyme themselves after seeing its effectiveness,” says Tan, who provides free enzyme for cleansing of the market. He also sells the solution by the bottles but thinks it best that people make it themselves as they would reduce their waste.

    Tan uses the enzyme liberally at home. “About 70% of the cleaning at home is now done using the enzyme, for mopping the floor and cleaning the toilets and bathroom. My family has reduced the use of chemicals and there are no more cockroaches in my house,” says the satisfied user. "


  24. Follow up: (same guy as before)

    However, I do agree that with the need of scientific evidences in order to back up the credibility of garbage enzymes. It can also allow us to see he unseen consequences that garbage enzymes has yet to bring us. (such as perhaps, the issue of possibility of these organic acid polluting the river in the long run. And of course, the ozone issue)

    I think that overall, it still comes down to whether it's supposed benefits (which effects has been seen but lack scientific evidence) may be outweigh by its supposed harms (which has also yet to be proven too). But looking at the situation now, it seems to be going in the right direction. On a side note, with regards to your example about which is better: soap or garbage enzyme? --> I think the point here is not about which is better, but we should rather also appreciate the fact that it is a feat that this whole process helps to facilitate recycling- which is a good process as a whole. At least it converts waste into something useful-- as long as it can serve its purpose as a soap (with no particular side effects)- isn't that a good thing?

    Sorry for writing so much. With regards to this issue, I prefer to sit on the fence. Some other opposing ideas that are surfacing on internet is worrying me too, such as:

    "Dr P. Agamuthu, a professor in waste management at Universiti Malaya, has questions too regardin g garbage enzyme. That the solution is beneficial for plants does not surprise him as it is rich in nutrients from the sugar.

    However, he is wary about using the solution in the shower and to wash dishes and food. “Since it involves fermentation of waste, there might be pathogens in the mixture. In normal composting of solid waste which is water-free, temperatures can reach to 65°C to 70°C, and this will destroy most pathogens. Fermentation, however, will never reach this temperature, especially when water is added.”

    He is uncertain if it is the enzymes, or other chemicals that are doing the job. To clear these doubts, Agamuthu intends to conduct his own tests with the enzyme to see what it contains and its effect on plants and soil.

    Following the barrage of criticisms, Oon has decided to stop linking garbage enzymes with ozone depletion and global warming – but only because she is stumped when asked to explain the scien ce. She adds that she does not urge people to pour the enzymes into rivers to clean waterways – that was done initially just to create an activity and to promote public awareness."

    That is fishy too. So well, sometimes it are really hard to tell- whether this particular thing is good or bad.

    P.S Btw, I am going to do a scientific experiment on garbage enzymes (for our project) using e-coli bacteria testing next week. We hope to produce positive results (hard to say) to support and advocate for such product in our local district. The methodology we are going to use is similar to the Kirby Bauer method with some modifications-- but we hope to find a better solution. Any suggestions?

  25. By the way, I like this post quite a lot. It can definitely provide tremendous help to our school report.


    Hope that you would not feel offended while reading my comments=(

  26. Hey mate, no offence taken at all! I even appreciate the direction you are approaching this with, very well done!

    It is news to me that Joeann Oon has stepped back on the 'green' movement as an activity promotion, as that was all i suspected the mudballs and river clean-ups really was: activity generation for product promotion.

    My only real reason for questioning the science after all, is to avoid promoting an environment where we just blindly follow testimonials and pleas from other people without any critical thought. That to me is the biggest issue and not the garbage enzyme itself.

    Believe you me when i say i appreciate your postings and i am most happy to hear you wish to test things out yourselves.

    I really do not think you need to go as far as the Kirby-Bauer methodologies, as we are not even aware what are the claimed micro-organisms affected... just 'good' and 'bad' are mentioned in the claims.

    Instead, i would suggest a simple test where the samples are double blinded. Like cleaning a number of items with and without the garbage enzyme then have subjects (who were not involved in blinding the data obviously) sample these items and mark down which they think had used the garbage enzyme to clean them (supposedly whichever they thought was cleaner etc).

    That is an example (tho there are many similar better options imho, that was what i could think of at 2am and feeling a bit drowsy lol.

    Good luck deriving a test and be sure to document it well enough and even post it online if you can! :)


  27. My own tests tell me the 'effects' of GE are merely placebo... If i dont add soap or detergent to GE, i can clean nothing. and i really can't see any increment in efficacy after adding ge to soap/detergent while washing... my coligue who tough me to produce ge, always ware smelly cloths (like never washed for days) to office...