USDA Issues Responses to National Organic Standards
On April 22, USDA issued responses to recommendations
of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) on a
number of issues. The NOSB recommendations along with
the USDA responses are posted on the web at www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/PolicyStatements/USDANOSBFeedback3_10_05.pdf.
Here is a brief summary:
> USDA agreed with the NOSB to allow fishmeal preserved
with natural substances as a feed additive or supplement
and agreed that synthetic preservatives added to fishmeal
must first be added to the National Organic Program’s
National List of approved synthetics through rulemaking.
USDA noted that the issue of added synthetics is part
of pending litigation in the federal case Harvey v.Veneman.
> USDA agreed with the NOSB that only approved, known
inert materials should be used in pesticide formulations
approved for use in organic production.
> As recommended by the NOSB, USDA upheld the prohibition
on antibiotic use for organically produced livestock
or their edible products.
> The NOSB recommended changes to the NOP regulation
for the conversion of conventional dairy herds to organic.
USDA responded that it must await the outcome of the
Harvey litigation, which addresses statutory requirements
for dairy herd conversion, before taking final regulatory
action on the issue but that USDA will consider drafting
an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to obtain
public comments on the issue.
> USDA disapproved of the NOSB statement encouraging
stakeholders to solicit information on whether legislation
should be adopted for organic certification of personal
care products, cosmetics, and dietary substances based
on USDA’s position that the Organic Foods Production
Act and the charter of the NOSB do not authorized the
NOSB to solicit information from the public regarding
legislative initiatives. USDA noted that currently these
products cannot carry the NOP organic seal but that
organic agricultural ingredients in the products can
be represented as certified to NOP standards.
> As recommended by the NOSB, USDA is forming a task
force with two working groups to consider organic standards
for farm-raised and wild-caught fish and seafood.
> USDA is also initiating a task force to address
organic labeling for pet food.
> USDA agreed with the NOSB to undertake additional
rulemaking for organic standards for mushrooms, apiculture
and honey, and greenhouse operations but to wait for
a recommendation from the NOSB on hydroponic agriculture
before proceeding with rulemaking on that topic.
> With regard to soil amendments, fertilizers, manures
and related products, USDA concurred with the NOSB that
labeling of those products is regulated by the states
but noted that USDA has authority over the products
to the extent that they may be agricultural products.
The NOSB will be considering recommendations on these
products after a review of labeling proposed by the
Association of American Plant Food Control Officials
(AAPFCO) which includes many state regulators as members.
The Association’s existing definitions for the
word "organic" have more to do with organic
chemistry (presence of carbon) than with organic agriculture.
Currently, AAPFCO allows the terms "organic fertilizer,"
"natural organic fertilizer," "natural
fertilizer," and "organic base fertilizer"
to be used on products not approved by the NOP. AAPFCO
is drafting a label “for organic production”
which the NOSB will review.