by Caroline Robertson
Imagine a chemical-free world with
pristine air, food and water.
This utopian ideal seemed impossible until a Japanese scientist
discovered the earth-saving solution of Effective Microorganisms
(EM). With endless applications in agricultural, industrial
and domestic areas, EM is being hailed as one of history’s greatest
In 1980 when horticulture professor Dr. Teruo
Higa threw away a series of common microorganisms he was stunned
to see several days later that the grass there had grown greener
and denser. For over a decade Dr. Higa had been exploring the
regenerative power of microorganisms for use in agriculture.
Deeply concerned about the earth’s environmental crisis, Dr.
Higa searched for a solution to revitalize soil and increase
crop yields thereby combating world hunger. His honed beneficial
brew called EM included 80 safe microorganisms containing common
food fermenters such as yeast, fermenting fungi, actinomycetes,
photosynthetic and lactic acid bacteria.
But to everyone’s surprise, EM not only regenerated
soil and boosted crops in record time; it emerged as an amazing
water purifier, chemical-free cleaner, quick composter, deodoriser,
preservative, health boosting antioxidant and probiotic. The
brown liquid blend free from genetically modified material is
now used to nurture healthy homoeostasis within one’s inner
and outer environment.
EM excitement escalated in Japan with schools,
farms, government bodies and households adopting it as an affordable
and effective alternative to chemicals. Dr. Higa patented the
process and set up the EM Research Organisation (EMRO) as a
non-profit organization to research and promote EM technology
throughout the world with profits going to developing countries.
Today EM is employed in over 120 countries as a low cost, sustainable
agricultural aid, water and sewerage purifier, deodoriser, cleanser
and health tonic.
I first encountered EM whilst visiting Thailand’s
Tao Garden Health Retreat and Spa in 2005. Struck by the flavoursome
food, fertile gardens and fresh smell in the villas, the manager
Walter Kellenberger attributed it all to EM. “Since using EM
for cleaning and gardening our organic crops are healthier than
ever and we’ve abandoned all harsh cleaning chemicals.” Access
to the full EM experience can be found at the world’s first
fully EM built and maintained hotel and spa launched in Okinawa,
September, 2005. The EM Wellness Centre and Hotel showcases
the scope of EM with all building materials, furnishings, bedding,
toiletries, cleaning agents and food produced with EM technology.
How can a mix of everyday microorganisms have
such magical effects? Though the merits of cultures such as
acidophilus and kombucha are well documented it’s now believed
that a synergistic solution of microorganisms give longer, stronger
benefits than a single one. The genius of Dr. Higa’s EM discovery
is the happy marriage of both aerobic and anaerobic microbes,
previously thought to be incompatible.
EM’s unique formula inhibits malevolent molecules
and promotes beneficial bugs, enzymes, nutrients and proteins.
This enhances regeneration and reduces degeneration to the degree
that it is being used in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath to
halt the spread of disease and odours.
EM’s phototrophic bacteria degrade harmful
substances and release healthy organic complexes such as antioxidants.
The same lactic acid used in yoghurt sterilizes pathogens and
decomposes organic matter. Fermenting fungi and yeasts secrete
B vitamins, nourishing plant growth with phyto-nutrients that
suppress odours and putrefaction. EM’s actinomycetes produce
anti-microbial substances that suppress harmful microbes. The
three groups synergistically form a foundation on which beneficial
EM intelligently enhances ecological harmony,
adapting to each circumstance rather than being an indiscriminant
antibiotic, antifungal, herbicide or insecticide. It trigger’s
nature’s innate balancing mechanism to re-establish equilibrium
in a sustainable way.
Dr Higa also attributes EM’s efficacy to the
positive wave resonance it releases promoting substance and
energy field unity. This is clearly evident from the food and
flowers produced with EM as their colour and form far outshines
those conventionally cultivated. As evident in the award winning
orchids, herbs and fruits of the Tropical Plant Resources Research
Institute of Okinawa, Japan. Company President Toichiro Nago
says, “As EM prevents oxidation and produces antioxidants it
also cultivates produce that lasts longer and has higher nutritional
value.” The International Nature Farming Research centre verifies
this claim finding that crops grown with EM have less nitrate
ions, decreasing the plant’s pest and pathogen susceptibility,
and higher vitamin C and carbohydrate levels.
Planetary and Personal Panacea
Scanning through EM educational material I’m
struck by its wide range of uses. Smiling Japanese school kids
pour it into polluted waterways with sparkling results. Thai
relief workers spray it on Tsunami hit regions and victims to
prevent disease and decay. Housewives clean and deodorize every
area of the house with it. Gardeners proudly display it’s produce
of perfect flowers and food. Breast cancer patients in Lahore
drink EM-X with tangible benefits. Residents of Kenya’s biggest
slum enjoy the improved sanitation and smell it brings. Swimmers
at a Kawasaki school pool no longer get asthma, skin and eye
irritations since EM replaced chlorine. Pig, chicken and dairy
farmers are amazed at its ability to neutralize foul odours,
compost their waste and boost animal’s health. Following are
the many fields in which EM is reaping revolutionary results.
Water purification and recycling
Pure water is essential for healthy, prosperous
living. With around 1,000 million people lacking access to safe
drinking water in developing countries it’s estimated that 80%
of deaths are due to contaminated water, at least ten million
a year1. With the water pollution problem expected to increase
by up to eighteen times by 2025, a change of tide is crucial.
EM may provide an answer. Wide scale trials
have proven EM can effectively purify water for safe consumption
and recycle sewerage and wastewater for agricultural irrigation.
As EM America’s Executive Vice President Eric Lancaster says,
“EM will basically make lagoon water into swimming water at
a fraction of the cost and time." EM also eliminates foul
odour from septic tanks, reduces sludge in sewerage systems
and controls excess algae, slime and salination. Australia’s
VRM group are at the forefront of sewerage spill management.
Their successful EM treatment of a Mackay sewerage flood led
to less odour, toxic water and damage to wildlife than generally
occurs with accidents of equal magnitude.
Rapid industrialization in Japan has led to
heavy pollution of its waterways. In attempts to reverse the
damage EM is being used by enthusiastic locals and government
bodies to purify Japan’s Yab river in Tochigi, Ainoya river
in Ibaraki, Ariake Sea in Nagasaki and Seto Inland Sea at Hiroshima.
In these areas they are seeing increases in marine wildlife
numbers including octopus, shrimp, cucumbers, crabs in response
EM zealots gather in groups to baptize Japan’s
waters with EM. Environmental teams such as the one at Kyushu
Island are dedicated to ‘ecological cleaning activities’, which
include using at least 1 litre of EM each a month to purify
water and soil. In Akitsu, Hiroshima since 60% of the population
started using EM for domestic cleaning and gardening the town’s
water quality has improved significantly. In Zamami Village,
Okinawa, after EM reduced the foul odour of 60,000 tons of dam
water, 60% of residents reported an improved quality of water
and the previously toxic readings of trihalomethane were lowered
to a harmless level.
Bangkok has been using EM for years to reduce
the foul odours and toxic water of shrimp farms, treat waste
and improve water. Governor Samak of Bangkok endorses EM, “We
are achieving good results with EM. We will continue to actively
EM’s cost-effectiveness is evident at Gushikawa
City Library where since they started sewerage processing with
EM annual costs reduced from $10,000 US to only $500 US. And
when Hotel Nikko in Arivilla switched from chemicals to EM to
treat their water they reduced expenditure by 5 million yen
Agricultural wastewater not only pollutes waterways
but is a massive waste when not recycled. Purification projects
worldwide solved this problem in places such as Nanning city,
China where they treat Cassava wastewater to reuse and purify
Lake Weishan which was ruined by paper mill pollution. EM can
also effectively eradicate serious pathogens as illustrated
in Iwaki City, Fukushima where E. coli colony counts were reduced
from 275 to 12.
Rivers and lakes overloaded by run-off containing
agricultural fertilizers, household detergents, organic waste,
urban stormwater drainage and the occasional oil and chemical
spill can be treated effectively with EM. With water damage
EM was successfully applied by the German government after the
Elbe River flood disasters of 2002 to decontaminate the toxic
waters and prevent mold growth in the flooded buildings. And
according to deputy Mayor Mr. Koji Yamawaki. EM removed Hiroshima’s
Utsumi canal’s thick toxic sludge in a matter of months.
An innovative use of EM is using it to convert
wastewater sludge and turning it into potent fertilizer. This
is being done by compost company Green Sun Co. Ltd by mixing
the town’s wastewater sludge with EM, rice bran and chicken
manure and making it into pelletised organic fertilizer.
Serious health and environmental concerns raised
by chemical farming are leading more people to prefer organic
produce. EM and Kyusei Nature farming methods support this trend
by promoting agriculture that is productive, profitable, energy
conserving, environmentally sound and safe for consumption.
One of the biggest agricultural problems is
the lack of nutrients and topsoil due to chemicals, row- crop
production and intensive tillage. EM solves this problem by
reinstating millions of microorganisms to the soil turning it
into eco-gold. This sustainable soil called zymogenic soil creates
the most conducive growing conditions.
A soil rich in minerals and regenerative microorganisms
provides optimum production levels, reduces disease and produces
top quality crops all without chemicals. As Dr. Teruo Higa says,
“EM technology in agriculture not only does away with the need
for agricultural chemicals and artificial fertilizers, but achieves
better results in every way than when they are used.” When EM
is introduced to soil it competitively excludes pathogens, pests
and weeds; nurtures nutrients and earthworms; decomposes organic
matter and detoxifies chemicals. This rich soil environment
promotes plant germination, flowering, ripening and increases
crop quality and quantity. As Dr. Teruo Higa explains, “At the
present time, average yields for rice grown using conventional
methods are currently running at nine bales per 10 acres. Nevertheless,
within only a few years of instigating the use of EM, we have
seen rice yields rise to 14-15 bales/10 acres.” This shift from
chemical farming to organic practices can yield better crops
within a year as Hiroshima Ikeda farming brothers testify, “After
using EM for one year our rice harvest yielded 70% more than
the previous year.” Mr. Osamu Saito, vice president of Kitamura
EM Farming confers, “Activated EM has markedly reduced disease
and improved yields of vegetables.”
As developing countries prone to food shortages
need EM technology urgently the charitable, non-profit EM Research
Foundation are channeling profits into agricultural projects
in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Africa and South America.
Throwaway, consumer societies are accumulating
more garbage than the earth can accommodate. The US alone creates
222 million tons of garbage annually and at least 60% of that
goes to overflowing landfills. Food scraps comprising about
11% of this landfill decay stink, attract rodents, emit dangerous
greenhouse gases and don’t decompose completely. Whereas with
the aid of EM many countries are proving that it can easily
be converted to valuable soil- enriching compost.
A model EM example is the Izumiohtsu factory
of Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd, which used to pay for garbage
removal until 1999 when they began composting the waste from
14,000 meals a month and selling it back to employees. Since
the Sapporo Grand Hotel started treating their waste with EM
it no longer emits a foul odour, processing costs were lowered
by 30% and they recycled waste into fertilizer for farmers.
Also in Japan, Funao town converts 22% of their garbage to compost,
reducing their annual garbage by 300 tons and saving vast sums
on disposal costs. In Pune, India, since 2002 the city garbage
has been sprayed with EM from a fire engine daily and compost
is made ready to go to farmers within fifty days. In Hanoi since
2001, the Cau Dien Compost Factory has been collecting 160 tons
of organic waste a day from the city market and, with EM, converting
it into compost within 38 days.
Other countries where large scale EM waste
management is saving money and the environment include China,
Korea, Burma, Vietnam, New Zealand, Thailand, Africa and South
An easy way to recycle household waste is to
compost organic garbage into garden food using EM Bokashi. Householders
are finding EM composts their organic waste in a month as opposed
to six months when using conventional composting methods. There
is also only a very mild sour smell and none of the heat, gas
or bugs associated with aerobic compost methods. If more people
employed EM composting the soil would revitalise and landfill
reduce in record time. Such as in Yanagawa City, Fukuoka, where
13,000 households are using free activated EM for garbage composting,
replenishing soil and purifying water.
Since 1996 the composting concept has been
taken to many schools by the Bokashi Outreach Network Program
in the US. It aims to train kids to take steps towards an environmental
solution rather than perpetuating the problem. Teachers such
as Pusch Ridge’s ‘recycle Queen’, Nancy Gifford are introducing
EM in a school-wide program to compost cafeteria waste. She
also uses EM in the school's small garden and sends students
home with Bokashi bags to bury. In Yoetsu Junior School, Kamakura
City, 450 students started learning about EM since 1996. All
students are given composting bokashi buckets and were excited
to see that their EM composted garbage made their school corn
crop grow faster, larger and tastier corn than those grown without
EM. Also in Australia the ‘Scraps from Lunch to Lunch from Scraps’
program run in ten Adelaide schools showed children how to recycle
food into fertilizer. Bertram Hawker Kindergarten children benefited
according to director Margie Colton, “It’s allowed them to see
the cycle of how things can be used again to grow food.”
When Japan’s Tamaki dairy farm fed cows EM
fodder and sprinkled it in their stalls they noticed remarkable
changes. Within two weeks the bad odour disappeared, the milk
increased and mastitis was almost eradicated. Other benefits
of using EM with livestock are that it discourages flies and
pests, improves animal’s digestion and produces great dung for
fertilizer. Research from ARC-Onderstepoot Veterinary Institute
also demonstrates the ability of EM to prevent the growth of
pathogenic microbes including those causing botulism and salmonella
poisoning. In the Netherlands amongst the 1,000 farmers using
it agree that EM reduces livestock illness, improves milk quality
and creates cleaner water and living conditions.
Fish farms are notorious water polluters. EM
has revolutionized aquaculture operations worldwide with shrimp
farms in Thailand and fish farms in Cairo, Austria and Japan
reporting cleaner water, increased fish numbers and natural
weed control after converting from chemicals to EM. The Spital/Pyhrn
Fish Farm in Austria found fish numbers doubled after employing
EM and farm maintenance costs significantly reduced.
Sick house syndrome is a phenomenon where chemical
fumes from carpets, paints, building and decorating materials
create debilitating symptoms in susceptible people. In order
to prevent sick house syndrome and increase a building’s longevity,
150 EM houses have been built by Sansyodo Inc, Aichi, Japan.
Since Mr. Hattori moved into his EM house he says there is “no
more sneezing and less flies and mosquitoes.” Mr. Sakamoto is
happy that he no longer suffers from asthma attacks and his
grand daughter’s eczema cleared up. Other residents report that
their migraines and allergies have disappeared. The house is
healthier too with EM preventing concrete cancer, white ants,
termites, rising damp, mould and wood rot.
Therapeutic applications of EM-X, the EM and
herb infused tonic, are slowly emerging. EM-X contains 18 amino
acids, 40 trace minerals, and dozens of antioxidant compounds
and enzymes. Scientific and clinical trials have established
EM-X’s ability to regenerate cells and destroy degenerative
influences such as cancer cells and free radicals. Scientists
claim that EM-X releases positive wave resonance that promotes
regeneration and assimilation of nutrients.
Chinese medical research revealed that EM-X
markedly inhibited human cancer cells involving breast cancer,
hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic myelogenous leukemia cells.2
Parkinson’s patients may find EM-X helps reduce neural degeneration,
following research conducted by the Imperial College London
supporting EM-X’s neuroprotective ability.3
Anecdotal evidence of EM-X-‘s anti-cancer quality’s
abound. Chinese doctor Huirong Tao, who is associated with the
Toushi Clinic in Hokkaido Japan, cites the success stories of
four cancer patients treated with EM-X and a special diet. Their
tumours, whether situated in the chest, the prostate or the
liver, diminished significantly and in some cases disappeared.
Mamdooh Ghoneum, an immunologist at the University of Medicine
and Science in Drew, California, has also shown that EM-X stimulates
activity in natural killer cells, an essential factor in the
attempt to control cancer.
Because EM-X contains living organisms it responds
differently according to the individual’s internal environment.
Experimenting with EM-X myself for a month I found it made my
body hum. I could feel an energetic buzz pulsing from through
my palms and feet, which stabilised my previously bad circulation.
EM’s natural yeasts, amino acids and alpha
hydroxy acids support the skin’s natural renewal cycle and pH
balance. The skincare brand SK-II applies the same principle
as EM through the use of fermented sake filtrate. The formula
called Pitera has been scientifically proven to increase skin
metabolism by 70%. Because EM encourages regenerative dermal
microorganisms users say it softens the skin, smoothes wrinkles
and makes hair grow back to its original colour and softness.
This has led to EM face creams, shampoos and soaps. Staff at
Japan’s Amayama hospital for aged care also claim that EM infused
water is much gentler on sensitive elderly skin.
Satisfied housewives with EM bottles illustrate
its innumerable uses in EM publications. Not only an effective
substitute for chemical cleansers, EM actually purifies rather
than pollutes the air and waterways. From large scale environmental
cleanups to domestic kitchens EM is used to remove mould and
grime, eliminate foul odours, replace washing powders, reduce
insects, clear pipes and cleanse everything from pets, floors
Because EM is a living technology, it is flexible
in its application, and therefore comes in a variety of forms.
These include liquids, granular material and ceramics. Since
EM’s available under many names this can cause confusion however
the most common name for the original ferment is EM-1. Subsequent
cultures from this are often called activated EM. Though imitations
are available, only the EM trademarked product can be trusted
for quality and efficacy.
The registered trademark name for the original liquid microbial
product is EM•1®. EM•1® can be used as a starter culture
and grown one time for economical benefits. This growing process,
similar to making wine or beer, is called Activation. The resulting
product is referred to as Activated EM•1® or AEM•1®.
Though imitations are available, only the EM•1® trademarked
product can be trusted for quality and efficacy. All authentic
products that are made with permission from EM Research Organization
bare the EM logo.
Following is a list of EM products.
- EM-X is a golden, tasteless health tonic
fermented from EM-1, antioxidant herbs and organic rice.
- EM-5 (Sutochu) is a highly effective natural
pesticide and insect repellent made from fermented EM-1, alcohol,
vinegar, molasses and anti-oxidant plants.
- Fermented Plant Extract (FPE) is a powerful
plant fertilizer made from freshly cut grasses, weeds and crop
residues fermented with EM-1.
- EM Togishiru is starchy water, molasses and
EM-1 used as an effective domestic cleanser and air freshener.
- EM mud balls are used for water and soil
- EM Bokashi is a dry composting mix combining
EM-1 and organic material to convert food into fertilizer. It
may include rice bran, corn bran, wheat bran, maize flour, rice
husk, bean husk, rice straw, animal dung, sawdust and coconut
- EM Ceramics. Since EM survives very high
heat it can be baked into silica clay ceramics. In water these
ceramics break down the water particles to increase its bioavailability
and resistance to malefic microbes. The water is said to reverse
oxidation and elicit beneficial magnetic resonance to enhance
natural cell regeneration. Ceramics can be added to cooking
rice, deep frying food, fish tanks and powdered into paints
and soil. An innovative dentist is adding EM ceramics to cavity
fillings with promising results.
- EM Toiletries infused with EM-1 these include
soap, toothpaste, shampoo and face cream
- EM Salt. Okinawan sea water is harvested
on the full moon and fermented with EM-X. The sea water is dried
and the resulting salt is a health salt containing all the bio-available
trace minerals from the ocean.
- EM Bokashi Rub Oil is a warming liniment
combining EM and fermented herbal oils recommended for arthritis,
aches and fungal infections.
- EM Paint has been shown to reduce mould,
termites, toxic fumes and enhance paint durability.
- EM clothes make the body warmer according
in infra-red ray research.
- EM Glass-stone (Super Sol) used as a foundation
filler in roads, floors and walls. This protects a structure
from deterioration, pests, chemical fumes and radiation.
Brendan Seage, EM Research Australia P/L firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Horsley, VRM Group, Townsville, Australia
Peter Beetz, Synergy Natural Products, Sydney, Australia
Yuri Terris, EMRO USA
Eric Lancaster, EM America
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3. The antioxidant drink effective microorganism-X (EM-X) pre-treatment
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