1, 2003: Here are some of
the certification-related questions you’ve asked us recently,
along with responses from our answer team.
This question is regarding "credence goods" labeling.
Do the National Organic Program and the presence of the "USDA
organic" label affect other labeling, such as Kosher, biodynamic,
or seals of approval for "sustainability" practices by
an organization such as The Food Alliance?
No. "Companion label" claims, such as Kosher, biodynamic,
grass-fed, Food Alliance, etc., need to be truthful, but they are
beyond the scope of the NOP regulation, and are allowed.
an organic farmer use insect traps such as “sticky”
and pheromone traps?
Yes, such traps are permitted. However, pheromone formulations may
contain inert ingredients that are not allowed for use in organic
production systems, so it is necessary to consider the acceptability
of specific products. To determine whether specific products are
allowed you must verify the regulatory status of the products with
your certifier. When in doubt always check with your certifier about
the status of a material before purchasing the product, or at least
before applying it to your land or crop.
Do fish meal, blood meal, and bone meal have to be organic to be
used as soil amendments?
No, they do not have to be organic. However, to be used in organic
production, such products must not contain synthetic fertilizers,
preservatives, or other prohibited materials in their ingredient
lists. Once again, when in doubt, check with your certifier before
purchasing or applying such a product.
If the manure used in an organic system comes from animals that
have been treated with chemicals would the system still be considered
There is no requirement that manure has to
be from an organic animal to be used as a fertilizer on an organic
farm. The manure can come from a conventional herd but you need
to keep in mind that the fertility management system cannot contaminate
crops, soil, or water with heavy metals, pathogens, excess nutrients,
or prohibited materials. If the manure source is contaminated with
heavy metals, pathogens, or pesticides, it may not be appropriate
to use. So you need to keep records on the source of the manure
and information about the management practices used where the manure
Chicken manure is an example of a manure
source which may be contaminated with heavy metals. Some growers
farm on soils that may have elevated levels of arsenic as a result
of past management practices. Certain chicken farms add arsenic
in the feed as a growth stimulant. Since arsenic doesn’t break
down (because it is an element), it can be transported directly
to your farm in the manure. In situations like the one presented
in this example, it would be very important for you to be aware
which manure contains arsenic, and to avoid buying or using it.
May compost teas be used for organic production currently, and are
they going to be prohibited in the future?
If the compost used for compost tea is produced
according to the National Organic Standards, then compost tea can
be used. The regulations do not prohibit additions of sugar and
molasses, so the use of added sugars is in compliance with the National
Organic Program. However, there is a provision in the regulations
that prohibits the use of fertilizer materials that are contaminated
with heavy metals, pesticides, or pathogens. So, if an organic farming
system uses compost tea, the inspector and the certifier would check
to see if the compost tea is free of pathogens or other contaminants
that could affect the safety of the food product.
does planting seedlings from a non-organic nursery affect the status
of certified organic land? Would the land be taken out of organic
status or is it only the fruit from the trees that are affected?
Annual seedlings must be organic, so planting
nonorganic seedlings would mean that the crops grown from those
seedlings could not be certified organic. Nonorganic perennial planting
stock, such as fruit trees, can be used on an organic site where
organic planting stock is not commercially available in the form,
quality, quantity, or equivalent variety needed by the operation.
Planting nonorganic planting stock does not affect the land’s
certification; it is still organic. Any non-organic perennial must
be grown on that organic site for at least a year before the harvested
crop, or the perennial plant itself, can be sold as organic.
growing media is being used for organic greenhouse production? How
do you produce a media that is acceptable for organic production?
The media would need to be in compliance
with the National Organic Program; so basically the media would
need to consist of natural materials. When deciding what materials
to use, check with your certifier and review the materials list
for approved generic materials. Generally, the greenhouse media
could consist of compost, topsoil, sand, peat moss, sphagnum moss,
vermiculite, perlite, etc., but synthetic wetting agents and synthetic
fertilizers are prohibited.