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Dr Maynard Murray's Legacy
"Nature can teach us so much if we would only listen..."
Dr. Murray began his life long research in sea energy agriculture in 1936. His goal: to get the perfect chemistry (consistency, balance and proportion) of the ocean back into the depleted soils. He felt this was the key to proper nutrition, a stronger immune system and a longer, healthier life. Dr. Murray undertook a variety of experiments to unearth the secrets of the sea, often wondering why land-based animals suffered from so many forms of chronic disease while sea animals generally enjoyed vigorous health.
Over the years, Dr. Murray's research would take him across the United States, from Massachusetts to Florida in search of answers. He pondered over what could impart this apparent immunity to sea animals. Was it a nutritional factor? Was it caused by minerals, or some more complex chemical factor? Simple reasoning reveals that minerals in soil leach out with rain and snow, flowing into oceans via streams and rivers — the land’s mineral fertility winds up washing into the seas. Minerals lost from land accumulated in the sea for millennia. This progression suggests that seawater minerals are key nutrients responsible for the heath of sea life.
“Seawater is Earth’s most ancient natural solution,” Murray said, “and, in my opinion, most ideal, physiologically. In the sea, as liquid crystalloid, all Atomic table elements are in a solution of consistent balance and proportion, available to all sea life.”
Murray noticed the elements in seawater are essentially the same as in blood, and very close to the same quantities. This seemed no coincidence, but a true clue to the role of minerals in health. Might mineral deficiency be a significant cause of degenerative disease? If humans get a full menu of minerals, will our physiologic disorders decline?
But how could humans assimilate these necessary nutrients? Drinking seawater isn’t possible — humans aren’t designed to ingest minerals as salts, or rocks, for that matter. Our guts can’t absorb elements in raw, naked, ionic forms. Rather, human intestines need minerals to be packaged with sugars, amino acids, fats, oils.
“Table salt is the only food we eat that’s inorganic,” Murray noted, “and frankly, it isn’t good for us.” He summed up his thesis: “Ocean waters hold a perfect balance of essential elements required as food for the complex cell groups that make up our bodies.” As a first step to learning how to supply minerals to humans, Murray realized that we get our minerals primarily from food, but that water is the second most important source. He decided to use seawater as a soil amendment, and observe whether this provided any benefit. Perhaps if soil is supplied with all essential minerals, plants will absorb them as nutrients and pass them on to the animals that eat them.
In Murray’s first trials, the U.S. Navy supplied seawater from oceans all over the world. Railroad tank cars delivered seawater to Cincinnati, which was sprayed at various controlled rates onto test plots.
In 1940, four 12-foot peach trees were planted 20 feet apart. Two of them, designated experimental, were treated with 600 cc. of seawater per square foot, before the buds broke; the other two acted as controls, receiving no application.
Murray recalled: “All four trees were sprayed with Curly Leaf virus. The test lasted three years. Virus spraying took place only the first year. Control trees contracted Curly Leaf each year, and finally died. Experimentals retained resistance throughout, and provided normal yields each year.”
Turnips were planted the same year, the experimental half fertilized with 600 cc. of seawater per square foot of soil. Staphylococcus bacteria associated with “center rot” was mixed into the soil of the entire plot. When turnips sprouted and leaves appeared, they were sprayed with the bacteria. All experimentals grew normal, healthy, no evidence of center rot. Controls contracted center rot and died. Similar results occurred with every crop Murray tested.
Sea Energy Agriculture, the science that Dr. Murray uncovered lay largely dormant during the next 20 years until a dedicated effort was initiated to rescue this essential knowledge from oblivion.
Dr. Murray began his trials with sea solids after he had started with coastal waters that had become increasingly toxic and unusable. OceanGrown has shifted from using sea solids (crystals are problematic for several reasons; many elements are lost during evaporation, crystals do not go back into solution easily or reliably, they are difficult to apply, and are a natural desiccant and therefore tend to clump in humid environments), back to an improved OceanSolution extract harvested from the deep clean ocean and suitable for all plants. This has required major investment in the design of machinery that can extract the minerals without damaging the aerobic bacteria that is abundant in seawater and is important for revitalizing damaged soils.
Murray faced facts compiled in experiment after experiment, and realized that nutrient deficiencies are a key element contributing to degenerative diseases: “My research clearly indicates Americans lack complete physiological chemistry because balanced, essential elements of soil have eroded to the sea; consequently, crops are nutritionally poor, and animals eating these plants are, therefore, nutritionally poor.
“Minerals have departed from our soils due to continuous taking of crops and erosion. Most crops require forty elements from the soil. In no case do fertilizers add more than twelve, most add six.”
Unlike technicians who see only their own small problem, Murray’s lifelong work with oceans, farmers, hydroponics and medicine gave him a broad view. He recognized that a new pill won’t resolve the real problem. Only addressing the root source can relieve disease. Murray correctly saw agriculture as the real root cause, and called for changes, not in medicine, but in farming and food processing.
In 1976, Murray published a small book titled Sea Energy Agriculture — a remarkable testimony to a natural approach to soil fertility, and a nutritional approach to medicine. Murray wrote hopefully, believing he had important news to report: “This is my lifelong search to open doors to a provocative new arena of science and technology called sea energy agriculture. . . . Quite possibly this could lead to the end of disease and famine.”
Murray’s one chapter on organic farming reveals weak insight into ecology — a prevalent shortcoming in his day. He believed that plants feed directly on inorganic ions in watery soil solution — no matter whether a nutrient was natural (organic) or man-made (synthetic).
The physician knew little of how bacteria, fungi and microbes affect plant feeding — that roots and soil organisms form intimate communities, wedded together in tight symbiotic dependencies. Actually, the medical doctor saw microbes mostly as unfriendly and dangerous.
Nonetheless, Murray’s conclusion states: “Today’s organic farmers realize a giant commercial farmer, specializing in one crop, using only chemical fertilizer, is destroying soil’s ability to produce food. If this continues, soil will be ruined and lost through erosion. To prevent this, and reclaim soil already destroyed, organic farming must be used.”
Thus, Murray cast his lot with the tiny minority to challenge the chemical orthodoxy of his times. Like every other small voice of reason, he was ignored in the petrochemical rush to pump up yield with synthetics. Murray’s conclusion also states, “Research reported is in the nature of pilot projects. Tremendous further research needs to be done to render conclusive the appealing results and provocative trends indicated to date.”
The book ends with Murray musing on the human implications of his findings. He cautioned against extrapolating his observations into human nutrition and health, yet recognized it to be a key issue of our time — a key to renewing America’s soil, food and health: “For man to continue to live on earth, he must make fundamental changes. He must look to oceans as a source of needed elements. These elements must be returned to soil so better quality, more healthful foods can be produced. “Man must stop destroying soil. This requires basic changes in our agricultural system. Large commercial farms probably must be broken up and small regional farms using organic methods take their place. “We have the means and ability to make these changes. We need now only the desire.”
Yet, Murray’s voice fell on deaf ears. The narrow chemical mindset of his time couldn’t embrace views differing from dominant paradigms. His data on nutrition and disease, soil minerals and food quality, and trace elements and health were lost, his warning to renew all the minerals needed in topsoil, ignored.
Dr. Maynard Murray was fond of saying, “Nature can teach us so much, if we would only listen.” He died in 1984, not sure whether his message had been heard or understood.
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