Last Updated: 10-30-14, 11:29 a.m. ET
Join The Cornucopia Institute as we live tweet from the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. We will be sharing the play by play with our Twitter followers under #NOSB or simply follow our stream.
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Read The Cornucopia Institute’s written comments to the NOSB here.
You can also stay updated throughout the meeting right here:
Thursday, October 30, 2014
11:29 a.m. ET: The board votes 12-3 against the removal of tragacanth gum from the National List.
Then they move to take another brief break.
11:25 a.m. ET: NOSB brings back the tabled motion to consider relisting of tragacanth gum.
Joe Dixon (retailer, Whole Foods) indicates that the fact that a certifier has one client using this material is sufficient to him to indicate tragacanth gum is essential.
Jay Feldman (enviro, Beyond Pesticides) asks if the the new letter from the user of the material that was given to the board yesterday was untimely.
Cornucopia contacted the original petitioner for the allowed use of this material three times. They never responded, nor did they submit any information in support of keeping this material on the National List.
11:13 a.m. ET: The full board votes 9 to 6 against removing aqueous potassium silicate from the list.
Prior to the sunset changes imposed by the USDA in Sept. 2013, this material would have no longer been allowed for use in organics. This cuts to the core of the argument that the new process means the sun will never set on nearly every non-organic and synthetic material on or added to the National List.
11:06 a.m. ET: NOSB considers relisting of aqueous potassium silicate. When is was initially approved for use, the Crops Subcommittee determined that it was not essential and it was not compatible with organic agriculture – yet it was still approved by the full board.
11:00 a.m. ET: After a brief break, the NOSB turns to sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate.
No discussion. Board votes 10-5 to reject removal from the National List.
See Cornucopia’s comments on why we opposed the relisting of sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate: http://www.cornucopia.org/nosb/
10:31 a.m. ET: Jay Feldman (enviro rep and Beyond Pesticides): No motion is required by the full board level for this material; no criteria provided for review as required. I will vote against this.
Zea Sonnebend (scientist rep and CCOF employee): Couldn’t disagree more with Jay
NOSB board votes 11-3, with one abstention, against removal of sulfurous acid from the National List.
10:22 a.m. ET: Nick Maravell (farmer): We have process colliding with substance.
Harold Austin (handler rep): This is about soil health; this does it for farmers in the drier arid areas.
Francis Thicke (envir rep and farmer): We can argue whether or not we should farm in the desert; this product will help in those areas.
10:12 a.m. ET: Question of how sunset works again rises as board considers voting on sulfurous acid.
Colehour Bondera (farmer rep): Are we looking at the material or at the process? We cannot isolate them.
10:03 a.m. ET: Crops Subcommittee begins discussion of sulfurous acid and its relisting on the National List.
9:53 a.m. ET: Inert ingredients, added to chemicals used in organic pest control, should be thoroughly reviewed and approved. Inerts can have their own damaging impacts. This has been a long simmering item before the NOSB. An udpate of its status was provided by program staff concerning the working group working on this.
Jay Feldman (enviro rep from Beyond Pesticides): I appeal to the program to bump this up to a higher priority and move this along. He wryly observes, “Hurry up and do this before I die.”
Feldman has extensive knowledge on this topic from his years of work on this issue with BP. It’s most unfortunate that more progress was not made during his 5 year term on the board, which ends this meeting.
9:32 a.m. ET: Jennifer Taylor (consumer rep) asks the NOSB to tell the NOP to stop work on the drafting of aquaculture rules.
Miles McEvoy: That would not be a good process It would be appropriate for the program to finish the draft rules, then open for public and board feedback.
Tracy Favre (enviro/cons rep): Many of us have concerns, but let the process move forward.
No further action taken by board. McEvoy indicated on Tuesday that drafting of the rules was underway.
Given the pace of this process, Cornucopia believes it will take many more months for these to be released (if not longer).
9:23 a.m. ET: The NOSB unanimously votes to send this matter to the USDA’s National Organic Program for resolution.
9:19 a.m. ET: NOP Director McEvoy: This will take resources; board could help us prioritize this type of work. GMO vaccines not authorized by regulation and will take us some time for analysis.
Jean Richardson: We can’t get the information we need to develop an approved list of vaccines. Companies won’t provide confidential information. This has to go back to the government/NOP to get that type of information.
Nick Maravell: To keep this issue within the NOSB would be the definition of insanity. We would need a lot of resources to pursue.
8:58 a.m. ET: Jean Richardson (consumer rep): This isn’t an easy issue; we should remind poultry producers that they can petition for an exception (such as for salmonella).
Nick Maravell (farmer): It is possible to make vaccines without GMOs. It has been done for 100+ years. If we aren’t firm on this, there will be no incentive (for development).
8:42 a.m. ET: The Livestock Subcommittee is up and discussing the thorny issue of GMO vaccines used in livestock production.
For more on Cornucopia’s position on GMO vaccines, go to http://www.cornucopia.org/nosb/ and read the fall meeting comments.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
4:59 p.m. ET: Handling Subcommittee is nearly done, than the Compliance, Accreditation and Certification Subcommittee will be up, focusing on an assessment of soil conservation practices.
4:27 p.m. ET: NOSB moves on to discussion of non-organic and synthetic materials that are scheduled for sunset in 2016. No votes on these materials will occur at this meeting, only a preliminary discussion. See Cornucopia’s comments for a full roster of these materials at http://www.cornucopia.org/nosb/.
4:14 p.m. ET: Nick Maravell: If the industry is moving away from carrageenan to gellan gum, this shows cooperation.
Joe Dixon: There was no checklist used as part of the review.
NOSB votes to keep gellan gum on the National List by 12-3 vote.
4:06 p.m. ET: Joe Dixon (retailer, Whole Foods): New information from one user leads us to believe tragacanth gum is needed.
Zea: This material is probably worth keeping and giving it the benefit of the doubt.
Harold: Lack of any public comments for continued use of this material lent us to think that we should remove. Then we got this new information from one user of the material yesterday that changed our mind.
Joe Dixon: Handling Subcommittee did not use the checklist (that other committees use) on health, environmental impact and essentiality.
Board tables vote until tomorrow.
3:57 p.m. ET: Procedural motion on point of order fails, 9-6. Voting fault line closely resembles Cornucopia analysis of NOSB member votes over the past 5 years.
3:52 p.m. ET: The Cornucopia Institute summarizes the debate:
Jay: “Protect the process”
Zea: “Get the job done, leave the politics behind”
Jay: “The process protects the outcome”
3:51 p.m. ET: Subcommittees absolutely followed the procedures, says McEvoy.
3:49 p.m. ET: Zea (scientist): You are saying the only way the full board can be on the record is by the subcommitee making a motion to remove (Q to Miles McEvoy).
Not a problem for this meeting, McEvoy says, because all materials have that motion at this meeting.
3:46 p.m. ET: Tracy Favre: These are interim solutions … we are on a moving train. Failure to move on these materials leaves further uncertainty in the industry. This is an opportunity for us to move forward while recognizing that there are things we can do to make the process better.
3:44 p.m. ET: Responding to a question from Nick Maravell (farmer), Miles says the plan is to work with the Policy and Procedures Subcommittee to further clarify this process. The memo that was sent to the board a few weeks ago only pertains to this meeting on how things work.
3:42 p.m. ET: Miles McEvoy: Subcommittees have a role to play; it is only the full board that makes those final recommendations. He says that procedures were clarified in a memo to the board a few weeks ago. NOSB is responsible for reviewing all materials under sunset process.
3:35 p.m. ET: Jay Feldman (envir. rep and Beyond Pesticides): The process is almost as important as the outcome. It hurt me to find out that members were meeting privately to develop the new procedures, and not as the full board.
We constantly hear how we must honor prior boards and procedures. That is not being done.
3:30 p.m. ET: Zea Sonnebend (scientist rep and CCOF employee): I do not trust motives of my colleagues on the board … they might want to remove all materials from the list. Leave the politics to the politicians and allow us to do our job — NOP should tell us how to do this. Zea gets applause.
3:25 p.m. ET: Mac Stone (certifier rep) says he thinks it should be harder to get materials on the national list and harder to take them off (which is the newly instituted process).
John Foster (handler rep from EarthBound) wants to vote on every material.
Tracy Favre (envir. rep), tends to agree with John and Mac. Risk that people may misunderstand subcommittee votes is a risk on every material.
Harold Stone, (handler rep from Zirkle): Let’s give this new process a try and see what we can make of it.
Colehour (farmer): We all need to be following the same process …. (and) we don’t.
3:15 p.m. ET: We need to start this (process) out right and do it well: Colehour Bondera (farmer). If the NOP wants to issue a new federal register notice with some corrections, then they should get right on it …. We aren’t able to speak (now) in a coherent manner on this process.
3:11 p.m. ET: Francis Thicke (farmer) adds that in his subcommittee (Crops) similar problems arose when members voted to remove a substance without really intending to vote that way when the full board weighs in. Misleading or confusing the public has consequences.
3:07 p.m. ET: Nick Maravell (farmer) argues that the maker and seconder of the motion should truly believe in their motion, otherwise confusing to the public when they vote against their own motion.
3:02 p.m. ET: Handling Subcommittee turns to tragacanth gum. Jay Feldman (Beyond Pesticides) raises a point of order challenging the way the motion was brought to the board. Board discussing how this fits into the new sunset process.
2:59 p.m. ET: Handling Subcommittee votes to withdraw algal flour recommendation and reconsider. The petitioner finally provided some more information on the manufacturing of this substance in their written and oral testimony.
2:56 p.m. ET: NOSB Handling cCommittee moves to center stage. Handling Subcommittee withdraws current glycerin recommendation so they can reword it.
Very difficult material, lot of moving parts, want to make sure when they come back with a proposal it would be a good proposal.
2:33 p.m. ET: Marty Mesh for Florida Organic Growers, long time certifier, has the last word from the public in the morning. Read Full Article »