Top takeaways from NOSB's fall meeting

Top takeaways from NOSB's fall meeting

How did the subcommittee votes fall and what's in store for organic? Read here.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) held its public meeting Oct. 15 to 18, 2012 in Providence, R.I. A complete transcript of this meeting will eventually be posted on the National Organic Program (NOP) website. The meeting agenda is available and the final recommendations will be posted in the near future.

The meeting began with introductions, approval of previous meeting transcripts, and approval of the agenda for this meeting. Following these actions, NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy and Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Policy Advisor Mark Lipson presented an NOP update on its activities, accomplishments, and priorities. Priorities for 2013 include Origin of Livestock, Pet Food, Aquaculture, Organic Seeds, Grower Groups, and Implementation of Residue Testing. The introductory presentations also highlighted NOP’s 10th anniversary and the Organic Literacy Initiative. The Organic Literacy Initiative is designed to help connect current and prospective organic farmers, ranchers, and processors with appropriate USDA resources.

Over the course of four days, NOSB heard comments from approximately 80 members of the public on a wide range of issues. NOSB discussed these and other suggested changes to its proposals from about 620 written public comments. A summary of NOSB’s final recommendations is provided below.

On Tuesday of the meeting following the Crops Committee discussions, Dr. David Granatstein from Washington State University presented an update from the Tree Fruit Working Group regarding progress on viable alternatives to the use of streptomycin and tetracycline in organic tree fruit production. The Tree Fruit Group is working diligently to find alternative inputs and practices. The ultimate goal is a complete phase-out of antibiotics for fire blight control, once alternate control measures are in place. Dr. Granatsein’s presentation was followed by Dr. Urvashi Rangan from Consumer’s Union, who provided a consumer perspective on the use of antibiotics in organic tree production. Following Dr. Rangan’s presentation, Kiki Hubbard from the Organic Seed Alliance gave a presentation on organic seed issues. This focused on the availability of organic seed and the recently launched Organic Seed Finder program, a website and database allowing seed providers and their potential customers to find one another. Hubbard also discussed GMO seed contamination issues.

This was the last meeting of NOSB Chair Barry Flamm, who has held one of the three environmental seats on the Board. Barry will complete his five-year term in January 2013. The new appointee should be announced in the near future.

New officers were elected at the end of the meeting. Certifier representative Robert (Mac) Stone is the new chair. Handler representative John Foster is vice-chair. Consumer representative Calvin Reuben Walker is secretary. Congratulations to all!

Recommendation and decisions
Over the course of the four-day meeting, the NOSB Crop, Livestock and Handling Subcommittees responded to a number of petitions to add or remove materials from the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances. This section of the USDA organic regulations identifies exemptions to the following general rule: synthetic substances are prohibited unless specifically allowed, and natural substances are allowed unless specifically prohibited. In organic processed products, all non-organic ingredients must be specifically allowed (on the National List), except non-organic agricultural ingredients are allowed in products labeled “made with (specified organic ingredients or food group(s).”

In addition to the recommendations for petitioned materials, the Crops, GMO Ad-Hoc, Livestock, Handling, Policy, and Certification, Accreditation and Compliance Subcommittees prepared several other recommendations and discussion documents on a wide variety of topics under NOP’s purview.

With several materials being petitioned for use in organic infant formula, a representative of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, and Dr. Sue Anderson of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were invited by NOP to provide additional information on the topic of fortification of infant formula.

Below is a summary chart providing a quick overview of NOSB topics and decisions. A link to a complete report including discussion, final recommendations, and votes directly follows.

Summary of NOSB Actions

NOSB Final Motion and Votes
As specified in OFPA, two-thirds of the votes cast at an NOSB meeting at which a quorum is present shall be decisive of any motion [§2119(i)]. As there are 15 NOSB members, 10 votes in favor are needed to pass a recommendation. “Motion failed” indicates that less than two-thirds of NOSB members voted to make the change in question, meaning that USDA does not have the authority to amend USDA organic regulations for that substance.

Crops Subcommittee

   

Substance / Topic

NOSB Motion

NOSB Vote

Review of Inert Ingredients

Move ahead on review of inerts with completion by October 2017

Passed

Ferric Phosphate (Slug Bait)

Prohibit as slug/snail bait in organic crop production

Failed

Propylene Glycol Monolaurate (PGML)

Allow as acaricide in organic crop production

Failed

Oxidized Lignite (humic acid)

Allow as soil amendment in organic crop production

Failed

Biodegradable Plastic Mulch

Allow in organic crop production with restrictions

Passed

Rotenone (For 205.602 - prohibited)

Prohibit in organic crop production (prohibited natural)

Passed, effective Jan.1, 2016

     

GMO ad hoc Subcommittee

   

Topic

NOSB Motion

NOSB Full Board Action

GMO Seed Purity

Discussion Document Only; No Vote. The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is prohibited in the production and handling of organic products, including seeds. The discussion document requested comments on the establishment of a seed purity standard, presence of GMOs in seed, and the amount of testing currently conducted. There is support to continue the discussion.

Added to the Spring 2013 Work Plan for further discussion

     

Livestock Subcommittee

   

Substance / Topic

NOSB Motion

NOSB Vote

Omnivore Diets For Poultry (Methionine)

Discussion Document Only; Note Vote. The document explored which natural alternatives to synthetic methionine would be most viable and worth pursuing. The focus was on the acceptability of feeding meat products to certified poultry and pigs.

Added to the Spring 2013 Work Plan -
Possible Proposal

Pet Food Amino Acids

Proposal was Withdrawn; Deferred to Spring Meeting

Spring 2013 Work Plan - Proposal

Nonanoic Acid

Allow as an insecticide (fly control) in livestock stock production

Failed

     

Handling Subcommittee

   

Substance / Topic

NOSB Motion

NOSB Vote

Other Ingredients

Discussion Document Only; No Vote. The discussion document outlines several approaches to addressing other ingredients contained in handling materials that are allowed on the National List.

Spring 2013 Work Plan – Possible Proposal

Ascorbyl palmitate

Allow as a preservative in NOP certified infant formula

Failed

Beta-carotene

Allow as a preservative in NOP certified infant formula

Failed

Lutein

Allow in NOP certified infant formula

Failed

Lycopene

Allow in NOP certified infant formula

Failed

L-Carnitine

Allow in NOP certified infant formula

Failed

L-Methionine

Allow in NOP certified infant formula made with soy-based protein

Passed

Nucleotides

Allow in NOP certified infant formula

Failed

Taurine

Allow in NOP certified infant formula

Failed

Materials Subcommittee

   

Topic

NOSB Motion

NOSB Vote

Research Priorities Framework Proposal

NOSB identified the top research priorities in organic agriculture, requesting that NOP coordinate with USDA research agencies to encourage funding awards in these areas.

Passed

CAC Subcommittee

   

Topic

NOSB Motion

NOSB Vote

Biodiversity Update

Discussion Document Only; No Vote. The discussion document summarized progress to date addressing biodiversity in organic systems, and asked for feedback on other potential ways to conserve biodiversity.

Added to the Spring 2013 Work Plan – Possible Proposal

Calculating Percentage of Organic Ingredients – Discussion Document

Discussion Document Only; No Vote. The discussion document requested feedback on areas where certifiers and certified handlers need help calculating the organic percentage of multi-ingredient products.

Added to the Spring 2013 Work Plan - Proposal

Policy Development Subcommittee

   

Topic

NOSB Motion

NOSB Vote

Conflict of Interest Proposal

Make changes to the Conflict of Interest (COI) and Ethics sections of the Dec. 2, 2011, NOSB’s Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM).

Withdrawn – further work needed: Added to Spring 2013 Work Plan.

Public Comment Procedures Proposal

Change the public comment procedures in the PPM including the comment sign-up process, time allocation for comments, and how public comment delivery at the meeting should proceed.

Passed

Public Communications Proposal

Amend the process by which NOSB would receive public communication.

Failed

Note: NOSB is an advisory body to the Secretary of Agriculture. NOSB recommendations are not NOP policy unless NOP issues Final rules, Final guidance, Final instructions, or a policy memorandum that adopts the NOSB recommendations. They are not part of the USDA organic regulations unless such action is taken.


Complete Report: NOSB Final Motion, Discussion, and Recommendation

OTA has provided a complete report that includes the petitioned material or topic, meeting discussion, and the final NOSB recommended action and vote for your reference.

Sub-Committee Tentative Work Plans
At the end of the meeting, NOSB announced its tentative work plan for the Spring 2013 meeting. The final work plan will be approved by NOP and posted on its website. The sub-committee tentative work plans are available now.

Organic Trade Association NOSB Report
As a service to its members, OTA attends National Organic Standards Board meetings. The NOSB Report, a members-only publication, summarizes the meeting and provides an overview of the agenda topics, public commentary, and key decisions made by the Board.

The items included in this report represent recommendations that NOSB developed and reviewed at its meetings. If accepted by the Board, recommendations pass onto the National Organic Program, which determines the final form of the NOSB recommendations. OTA members are alerted to steps in rule-making through OTA's News Flash or other member communications.

OTA’s NOSB Report archives are available on the members-only section of the OTA website. Please contact OTA’s Regulatory Director, Organic Standards & Food Safety Gwendolyn Wyard with questions.

Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish