Spring 2013 NOSB Meeting Report

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met April 9-11 in Portland, Oregon. NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy reported on the many activities of the National Organic Program (NOP) in the six months since the last meeting. Recent activities include work on the previous NOSB nanotechnology recommendations, international agreements, and aquaculture standards. Proposed rules in progress include origin of livestock, final rule on sodium nitrate, and apiculture standards. Guidance documents still to come this year include grower groups, inspector qualifications, responding to results from pesticide residue testing, and handling unpackaged organic products.

The NOP has responded favorably to the comments of CCOF and other parties about excessive bureaucracy and paperwork with a new initiative, Sound and Sensible. This program will be adopted throughout the organic regulatory world by auditors who visit certifiers, within certification internal practices, and through reduction of grower and handler recordkeeping burden. Look for positive changes in the months ahead as this develops.

Approximately 150 members of the public gave comments over the three days, supplementing almost 3,000 written comments. The majority of comments concerned extension of the allowance for tetracycline use to control fire blight in apples and pears. After hearing from dozens of people on both sides of the issue and an expert panel who addressed questions from NOSB members, the motion for extension failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed to pass by a vote of 9 to 6. Therefore, clients have until October 21, 2014, to use this material, but then must find alternative ways to address fire blight.

Ancillary Substances (formerly "other ingredients"), another key issue for handlers, was voted into a final recommendation at this meeting. The adopted policy and procedure for review of these handling inputs (that occur mostly as incidental additives) will strengthen the way these inputs are reviewed by the NOSB. It will also make it clearer to certifiers and handlers what is expected and allowed when they choose ingredients for organic products.

The NOSB turned down petitions for Polyoxin D zinc salt and Indole-3 Butyric Acid (IBA) for crops, and sulfuric acid, barley beta fiber, sugar beet fiber, and 1,3-Dibromo-5, 5-dimethylhydantoin (DBDMH) in handling. Taurine was approved for pet food, but other amino acids were not. Discussion documents were presented on Seed Purity and GMOs, Excluded Methods Terminology, Confidential Business Information in Petitions, and Definitions for Production Aids.

The final recommendations will be posted online in the near future.