Summary of the Fall 2016 National Organic Standards Board Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met in mid-November to hear public comment, vote on the 2018 Sunset Materials, and discuss and vote on various proposals. NOSB also held officer elections, and the board elected CCOF member Jesse Buie to serve as their new secretary. NOSB thanked outgoing members for their service, including CCOF member, inspector, and policy specialist Zea Sonnabend. Carmela Beck, representing Driscoll’s, also completed her term on the board.

Proposals Passed by NOSB

NOSB discussed and voted on seven proposals during the fall 2016 meeting. While most proposals passed unanimously, NOSB sent proposals related to container production and hydroponics back to the NOSB crops subcommittee for more work. Other votes of note included the recommendation to remove Ivermectin, a parasiticide used in livestock production, from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List).

For detailed information about the proposals discussed and voted on by NOSB during the fall meeting, refer to the Organic Trade Association’s Fall 2016 NOSB Summary Report.

2018 Sunset Materials and Additions to the National List

NOSB voted on 15 materials up for review on the National List. NOSB voted to relist all the materials up for review, with the exception of carrageenan. See below for a summary of NOSB’s final recommendations regarding the 2018 Sunset Review materials.

NOSB also reviewed and voted on 11 proposals to add new materials to the National List. NOSB referred a proposal petitioning the use of sodium chlorite for use in organic processing back to the NOSB handling subcommittee for more work. The remainder of the proposals failed.

About the Sunset Process

USDA organic standards prohibit synthetic substances unless specifically allowed and non-synthetic substances are allowed unless specifically prohibited. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP), which is the USDA agency responsible for administering organic standards, maintains the National List. The National List sets forth what specific synthetic substances are allowed and what non-synthetic substances are prohibited.

The National Organic Program (NOP) may add or remove substances to the National List after it completes a review process. The NOSB, a citizen advisory committee appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, must review a substance on the National List every five years from the date the substance is added. To review a substance, NOSB considers technical reports, reviews oral and written public comments, discusses materials, and then casts a vote on whether to prohibit the substance in organic production. The outcome of the vote determines the official NOSB recommendation to NOP on whether to remove a material from the National List.

Notably, the review process is not complete when NOSB makes its recommendation. To remove a material from the National List, NOP must pursue federal rulemaking, which includes another round of public comment and review. A material is not officially removed from the National List until NOP completes federal rulemaking and issues an official notice.

Summary of NOSB Final Recommendations Regarding the 2018 Sunset Materials

The following chart summarized NOSB’s final recommendations made at the Fall 2016 NOSB meeting regarding the relisting or removal of the 2018 Sunset Materials from the National List.


Crops Materials
Copper sulfate Used as an algicide in aquatic rice production systems. Relist 
Ozone gas Used as an irrigation system cleaner. Relist
Peracetic acid Used to disinfect equipment, seed, and asexually propagated planting material. Relist
EPA List 3: Inerts of unknown toxicity Used in passive pheromone dispensers. Relist 
Calcium chloride Used as a foliar spray to treat a physiological disorder associated with calcium uptake in crops. Relist
Handling Materials
Agar-agar A food additive used as a stabilizer, thickener, moisturizer, and flavor enhancer. Relist
Animal enzymes Naturally-occurring proteins that carry out naturally-occurring biological processes that are useful in food processing. For example, the animal enzyme rennet is used to curdle milk in cheese making. Relist
Calcium sulfate-mined Used as a dough conditioner, firming agent, and coagulant in tofu manufacturing. Relist
Carrageenan Used as a bulking agent, stabilizer, or thickener in food processing. Remove
Glucono delta-lactone Used in the production of tofu. Relist 
Tartaric acid Has many functions in food processing, including use as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and anti-caking agent. Relist
Cellulose Used as a processing aid for filtration of juices, as an anti-caking agent ingredient for use in shredding cheese, and as a processing aid in the form of peelable sausage casings. Relist
Potassium hydroxide Used as a processing aid for filtration of juices, as an anti-caking agent ingredient for use in shredding cheese, and as a processing aid in the form of peelable sausage casings. Relist
Silicon dioxide Has various functions in food processing, including use as an anti-caking agent, carrier, and defoaming agent. Relist
Colors: Beta-carotene extract Used as a color in food processing. Relist

1 Organic Trade Association. (2016). "Fall 2016 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) - OTA's Summary Report." Retrieved November 23, 2016 from