Follow the National Organic Standards Board Meeting in Stowe, VT #NOSBOctober 26th, 2015
Last Updated: 10-29-15, 4:27 p.m. ET
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Read The Cornucopia Institute’s written comments to the NOSB here.
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Thursday, October 29, 2015
4:27 p.m. ET: The Fall meeting of the NOSB meeting has adjourned.
4:25 p.m. ET: For five NOSB members, this is the last meeting of their five-year terms. In his exit speech, farmer member Colehour Bondera said:
“Making everyday choices as a farmer has to include thought to the environment and the consumer. While on the board, I have tried not to get bogged down in the little details, but to be careful of the process. Without a healthy process, we’re not going to be healthy. We are a public advisory group and I have always paid attention to the public. What I’m working toward is not to maintain the status quo, but for continual improvement. I want Organic to work for all of us.”
4:11 p.m. ET: One of the last items of business for the Fall meeting of the 15-member NOSB is the election of officers for 2016. The new chair of the board will be Tracy Favre, who sits in one of the board’s two environmentalist/conservation seats. Favre, from Texas, is a part-time certification inspector and a manufacturer’s rep, as well as a petroleum engineer by training. Elected vice-chair is Tom Chapman, who holds one of the two industry (handler/processor) seats and works for Clif Bar.
2:09 p.m. ET: After lunch, the NOSB begins discussion of the new Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM) given to the board in the form of a report. (By way of background, the NOP had unilaterally disbanded the Policies and Procedures Subcommittee when they instituted the changes to the Sunset process. It has since been restored.)
NOSB farmer member Bondera repeatedly brings up the fact that the new PPM put forth in the form of a report was very difficult to see the changes made without a “red line version” highlighting changes. Not seeing what has been changed makes it difficult for board members and the public to provide meaningful feedback.
Board member Stone, representing certifiers, indicated that he trusts those who developed the new version, and he liked its readability.
Bondera mentions concerns about sharing minority positions and the relationship of the NOSB and the NOP.
The NOSB will continue reviewing the new PPM, with a vote on it at the Spring 2016 meeting. Board Chair Richardson, consumer seat, agrees it will be better to review the new and previous versions for changes.
12:39 p.m. ET: Board sharing a moment of humor when they complete the review of scores of materials under the Sunset process.
NOSB poses in shirts: “I survived Sunset 17”
12:36 p.m. ET: One of the technologies (“excluded methods”) prohibited in organics is genetic engineering, or GMOs. During discussion by the NOSB of a strategy and guidance on how to address this topic, farmer board member Nick Maravell tells the board he will abstain from voting on the strategy and guidance. Says Maravell, “I’m sad and angry that for five years we have fought the good fight on GMO contamination only to see that it is worse now than when we started.”
The board adopts the strategy document.
12:29 p.m. ET: As the NOSB finally turns its attention to policy matters, the Materials Subcomittee presents their research priorities. These include prevention of GMO contamination, prevention and management of parasites, herd and flock health, evaluation of methionine in the context of a system approach in organic poultry production, alternatives to chlorine materials, and alternatives to copper for disease and algae control.
12:25 p.m. ET: The NOSB resumes its review of Sunset materials concerning livestock production. Approved for continued use by the board are peroxyacetic/peracetic acid, phosphoric acid, poloxalene, tolazoline, xylazine, copper sulfate, formic acid, lidocaine, mineral oil, procaine, sucrose octanoate esters, trace minerals, vitamins, and excipients. The board reapproved the prohibition on strychnine use.
They have now concluded their review of materials up for Sunset at the fall meeting.
11:47 a.m. ET: The NOSB debates the proposed sunset of methionine, the synthetic amino acid added into poultry feed. The board renews methionine use. Board members further discuss the breeds of birds used in egg laying and FDA rules that conflict with or limit alternatives in organic production. NOSB farmer member Bondera notes how the USDA’s National Organic Program has been quick to set up a task force for hydroponics, something not recommended by the NOSB, but has failed to set up a task force that the NOSB has long sought to address the simmering methionine issue.
10:38 a.m. ET: The NOSB reapproves continued use of several other livestock materials, including oxytocin, magnesium sulfate, magnesium hydroxide, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, glycerin, glucose, flunixin, electrolytes, chlorhexidine, and butorphanol.
10:35 a.m. ET: The NOSB reapproves the continued use of the parasiticide moxidectin. (Cornucopia’s analysis of the parasiticide issues begins at page 157 here: http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh)
10:33 a.m. ET: More discussion occurred over the parasiticide ivermectin. Members talked about its impact on the environment, effectiveness, and need. Several members noted their reluctance to remove a material used by livestock farmers. When voting took place, 6 supported removal, with only 4 opposing and 4 abstaining. This keeps ivermectin on the National List but again, this would not have been the case had the previous Sunset rules been in place.
10:29 a.m. ET: The NOSB unanimously reapproves the use of the parasiticide fenbendazole.
10:01 a.m. ET: There is a 90-day withholding period for organic milk or milk products and wool from a treated animal. There is a consensus on the NOSB that this is much too long because there is no scientific rationale for the 90-day withholding period and conventional production doesn’t require it.
9:54 a.m. ET: NOSB engages in long discussion on parasiticides used in livestock production. The three under discussion are fenbendazole, ivermectin, and moxidectin. Fenbendazole is the most environmentally benign parasiticide, yet it is currently required to have a veterinarian prescribe it. Whereas ivermectin and moxidectin do not require a veterinarian prescription and ivermectin has shown to be more harmful to dung beetles (slowing the breakdown of cow pies). An annotation to get rid of the prescription requirement for all parasiticides has been proposed.
9:21 a.m. ET: The NOSB reapproves the continued use of chlorine in livestock production.
9:15 a.m. ET: The NOSB votes to remove furosemide from the National List. Used to reduce edema (swelling/fluid build-up in cattle), it is the first livestock material to be removed based on lack of use, and the availability of alternatives. These cattle health symptoms can be treated in a number of ways holistically, through herbal essential oils.
9:05 a.m. ET: NOSB farmer member Colehour Bondera again raises objections about the process. He wants to send chlorine back to the subcommittee asking them to answer specific questions. In particular, he wants to see the law that requires the use of chlorine.
9:03 a.m. ET: The NOSB is back in session, they are beginning with a discussion of chlorine materials used in livestock.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
6:34 p.m. ET: The NOSB approves another batch of materials used in food handling and processing, including gelatin, various gums (arabic, guar, locust bean and carob bean), konjac flour, lecithin de-oiled, orange pulp (dried), orange shellac-unbleached, pectin (non-amidated forms only), seaweed (Pacific kombu), cornstarch and sweet potato starch, and wakame seaweed.
The NOSB removes inulin-oligofructose enriched, turkish bay leaves, whey protein, and peppers (chipotle chile) from the National List, citing commercial availability of organic versions.
The NOSB then adjourns until Thursday, a.m.
5:58 p.m. ET: NOSB keeps conventional “kelp” on the National List, even though it is required to be organic in animal feed. Board chair Jean Richardson, consumer slot, says she is troubled that organic kelp is required for livestock but not for human consumption. Eight board members support relisting of conventional kelp.
5:26 p.m. ET: NOSB votes unanimously to remove galangal, a member of the ginger family.
5:23 p.m. ET: NOSB reapproves fructooligosaccharides, used as a flavor enhancer, sweetener, and bulking agent. Eight of 14 members oppose its continued use but again, under the USDA’s newly imposed Sunset changes, the non-organic ingredient will remain in use.
5:11 p.m. ET: The NOSB votes to retain the use of fish oil in organics. Despite 8 members opposing, and only 6 supporting, the new USDA Sunset process allows it. Board chair Jean Richardson, consumer rep, argued for removal, saying that consumers could find fish oil in other products as a supplement if they wanted to. Board member Tom Chapman, a Clif Bar employee and industry rep on the board, supported its continued use (Clif Bar uses it in some products).
(Cornucopia contends that liquid fish products in crop production has different essentiality issues than fish oil. Analysis at page 75, here: http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh)
4:41 p.m. ET: The NOSB votes to remove dillweed oil from the National List citing adequate organic supplies.
4:39 p.m. ET: Extensive discussion by the NOSB on the use of non-organic food colorings. The board chose to vote on continued use of the 17 colorings on an individual basis. Some manufacturers said that the organic versions of the colors were not consistent, while others said they were (pigments are extracted from fruits/veggies for the colorings). NOSB member Mac Stone, certifier seat, proposed giving industry another 5 years to work on availability. Tom Chapmen, handler seat and Clif Bar employee, said he was conflicted but wanted to send a message to industry by sunsetting the colorings. Farmer board member Maravell proposed a phase-out.
The board ultimately voted on each coloring, with the result keeping all on the National List. Yet at least eleven of the seventeen would not have reached the level for approval under the previous Sunset process that was unilaterally changed by the USDA. The board votes were relatively evenly split on many of the colorings, with numerous abstentions from members who said they lacked sufficient information to make an informed decision.
(Cornucopia’s analysis and comments opposing the relisting of non-organic colorings can be found on page 69 here: http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh)
3:23 p.m. ET: Considerable board discussion on the relisting of conventional celery powder, used in the curing of processed meats. NOSB farmer board member Nick Maravell says organic processed meats could be preservative-free if we were to market all products frozen (as his farm markets their meat to avoid all preservatives including celery powder). NOSB environmental member and dairy farmer Francis Thicke comments that he can’t understand why we can’t duplicate high nitrogen content in organically grown celery (its high level of nitrates are used to control microbes). Thicke adds that perhaps ecologically and for human health reasons, we wouldn’t want to. The NOSB votes 9-5 to relist conventional celery powder.
3:11 p.m. ET: The NOSB unanimously votes to remove non-organic chia from use due to availability of organic supplies.
3:02 p.m. ET: Xanthan gum provoked discussion by the NOSB. Board scientist and CCOF employee Zea Sonnebend reiterated the claim that infant health problems associated with xanthan gum are an isolated event, most likely due to product contamination. She does not believe there’s evidence that xanthan gum can be linked to any health issues in infants. (Cornucopia cites additional research on health issues in its opposition to reapproval for this food ingredient at page 117 http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh)
During discussion NOSB chair Jean Richardson, a consumer representative, asks for clarification on its essentiality. Sonnebend states it depends on your point of view. From the industry point of view it is essential, from the consumer point of view, they can make their own dressing if they don’t want xanthan gum in their salad dressing, saying “If you don’t like that xanthan gum is in your salad dressing, make your own!”
Eight members of the board vote to retain the ingredient on the National List – a total that would have failed under the former Sunset Rules.
Public seating during NOSB meeting
2:54 p.m. ET: More votes on materials roll in from the NOSB meeting. Reapproved for use are potassium acid tartrate, potassium carbonate, potassium citrate, potassium phosphate, sodium citrate, sodium hydroxide, sulfur dioxide, and tocopherols.
Cornucopia opposed a blanket relisting of tocophperols (natural compounds extracted from edible vegetable oils such as soybean, rapeseed sunflower, corn and cottonseed oils) unless they were extracted without the use of synthetic solvents. More beginning at page 99 of our comments at http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh.
2:22 p.m. ET: During the ongoing materials discussion, NOSB farmer member Bondera again expresses his frustration at being required to vote without all of the information – including missing Technical Reviews. He indicates that he would prefer to postpone a vote until all of the requested information is available. He also requests an open public docket for continual submission of comments to the board between meetings.
2:04 p.m. ET: As the NOSB continues to wade through its dozens of votes on materials, the question of conflict of interest is brought up. According the National Organic Program, use of a material is not a conflict of interest and not a reason to disqualify you from voting for its use in organics.
12:39 p.m. ET: The board reapproves the use of chlorine materials, 10-2. Discussion revolves around how materials like this are placed on the board’s work agenda for further review and discussion. NOSB board scientist and CCOF employee Zea Sonnebend notes that even though vote is required by NOSB, certain materials should be reviewed more carefully, and she wonders whether that will happen even if board agrees it should be.
Removal vote: No 12 Yes 2 Abstain 0
12:22 p.m. ET: The NOSB votes to reapprove the use of nutrients – vitamins and minerals, although this is another material that would not have passed the previous Sunset process.
During the considerable discussion of the material, NOSB scientist Zea Sonnebend argues against reapproval because of the broadness of the category. She believes that the NOP is purposely stonewalling past NOSB recommendations because of industry pressures to continue to allow certain nutrients/vitamins and minerals, although she admits there is no evidence to this. She also wants industry to petition for the use of individual nutrients, such as Vitamins A and D. Tom Chapman of Clif Bar, who holds an industry seat (handler), says that not relisting will cause some manufacturers to exit organics.
11:51 a.m. ET: Magnesium carbonate, used as a filtration aid, buffering, drying, anti-caking and color retention agent, is removed from the National List by the NOSB due to lack of use and the availability of alternatives.
11:46 a.m. ET: The NOSB has voted to reapprove the use of glycerides (mono- and di-) for continued use in organics. However, this material would have failed using the previous Sunset approach that the USDA arbitrarily changed. The vote was 6 to remove and 8 to relist. Cornucopia opposed the relisting because alternatives exist and due to glycerides’ likelihood to contain harmful trans fats.
(Please note that our analysis of glycerides can be found on page 81 here: http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh)
11:20 a.m. ET: NOSB farmer member Bondera continues to question need for various materials in organics. He says he will vote against the reapproval of chlorine materials due to unanswered questions. He adds that he is uncomfortable with voting to reapprove while delaying research on issues surrounding the materials’ use until a future date. Due diligence is not being done, says Bondera.
(Cornucopia was neutral on the continued use of chlorine materials, an analysis can be found on page 57 here: http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh)
11:08 a.m. ET: The NOSB continues to approve relisting of numerous handling materials. Among these are acidified sodium chloride, alginates, ammonium bicarbonate, ammonium carbonate, ascorbic acid, calcium citrate, calcium hydroxide.
Some board debate occurred over the proposed renewal of calcium phosphates, with the role of the suspected human health impacts of phosphates at the center of the discussion. Farmer board member Nick Maravell asked why the materials are not tabled when more research is needed. Officials from the National Organic Program said it needs to be voted on now. NOSB member Tom Chapman of Clif Bar said that an additional technical review had been requested to address the human health impacts. Board scientist Zea Sonnebend said that more time is needed to investigate the health claims but there is no reason to not allow these substances to be used at this point. Ten of fourteen board members then voted to allow continued use of the food ingredients.
9:56 a.m. ET: NOSB member and farmer Colehour Bondera asks the board how they can determine if a handling material is essential when no one comments on it seeking renewal for use? How do you distinguish between “use” and “essentiality,” he asks. Essentiality is one of the criteria used to measure placing a material on the National List.
9:42 a.m. ET: The NOSB has voted to reapprove use of alginic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, attapulgite, bentonite, calcium carbonate, calcium chloride, dairy cultures, diatomaceous earth, enzymes, flavors, kaolin, magnesium sulfate, nitrogen, oxygen, perlite, potassium chloride, potassium iodide, sodium bicarbonate, carnauba wax.
9:26 a.m. ET: The NOSB is back in session, and has begun voting on a long list of materials used in the handling of organic food.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
5:44 p.m. ET: NOSB approves more less controversial materials for continued use in organics, including magnesium sulfate, micronutrients, liquid fish products, Vitamins B1 C and E, sodium silicate, EPA List 4 – Inerts of minimal concern, and microcrystalline cheesewax.
The NOSB then adjourns until Wednesday morning.
5:34 p.m. ET: Ethylene gas remains on the list, used for pineapple ripening by Dole and other large interests. Colehour Bondera, a farmer in Hawaii who has raised pineapples, explained his first-hand experience. He passionately and eloquently noted Dole’s history of abandoning local family farmers and local economies on Hawaii. Dole brought in a lot of small local growers for support from Costa Rica. Pictures from there indicate that Dole is promoting monoculture production and ignoring diversity requirements in organics.
Harold Austin, NOSB member sitting in an industry seat on the board, responded that “organics today is not what organics was 20 years ago.” (Cornucopia continues to point out that the industrial-scale interests in organics have been seeking to redefine the working definition. Cornucopia opposed the reapproval of ethylene gas, comments on page 4 here: http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh).
Harold Austin pictured on-screen, participating remotely
4:32 p.m. ET: A number of less controversial materials have been reapproved for continued use in organics by the NOSB in their Tuesday afternoon voting. Ethanol, isopropanol, chlorine materials, hydrogen peroxide, soap-based herbicides, newspaper and other recycled papers, plastic mulch and covers, ammonium soaps, ammonium carbonate, boric acid, elemental sulfur, lime sulfur, horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps, sticky traps, sucrose octanoate esters, pheromones, Vitamin D3, fixed copper and copper sulfate, hydrated lime, potassium carbonate, and humic acids.
Lignin sulfonate as a floatation agent (not a dust suppressant) was removed from the National List of approved synthetic and non-organic materials allowed for “temporary” use in organics. In total, the NOSB will be voting on approximately 180 materials at this meeting.
4:23 p.m. ET: A third material that would not have been reapproved for further use in organics under the old Sunset rules has been passed under the USDA’s loosened approach. Lignin sulfonate for dust suppressant will stay on the National List. Cornucopia supported removal, more on page 13 of our formal comments here: http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh
4:05 p.m. ET: Aquatic Plant Extracts reapproved by the NOSB for use in organics on the National List. This material too would have fallen off the list under the old Sunset rules. Cornucopia and 13 other stakeholder groups are suing the USDA over the unilateral changes to these important rules.
2:49 p.m. ET: Voting begins on materials before the NOSB. Soap-based algicides reapproved for use by a vote of 8 yes, 5 no and one abstention. This material would not have been relisted under the old Sunset rules that were unilaterally changed by the National Organic Program two years ago.
12:56 p.m. ET: Marty Mesh, Florida Organic Growers, supports chlorine materials and alkali extracted humic acids staying on the National List. He voices support for the proposed changes for micronutrients. As for GMO contamination, Mesh says the patent holders should be responsible for contamination problems. (Cornucopia opposes the micronutrient proposal, see page 39 of our formal comments: http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh)
12:48 p.m. ET: Farmer Jack Lazor tells the NOSB that the true meaning of Organic is more about spirit than process. The USDA/AMS is not on our side, their hand in organics comes with different intentions. The Lazors operate Butterworks Farm, “Vermont’s Original Organic Dairy.”
12:45 p.m. ET: Ann Lazor, organic dairy farmer, expresses concern that “OUR NOSB is not being heard by the NOP. The infiltration of agribusiness has an effect on the ability of the USDA to listen to the NOSB.”
12:43 p.m. ET: Michael Bald, a farmer, testifies that the “footsteps of the farmer is the best stewardship.” He criticizes USDA’s chemical approach to invasive species management. Says it is easily possible to manage weeds mechanically.
12:40 p.m. ET: David Will, Chino Valley Farms, disputes the Center for Food Safety’s argument that removing synthetic methionine from the National List will create alternatives in poultry production. He says that methionine is an essential amino acid and (synthetic) methionine needs to be reapproved.
12:23 p.m. ET: John Ashby, former board chair of the Organic Materials Research Institute, says we need tools (materials) to grow. Organic is only 1%.
12:20 p.m. ET: Beth Jones, Kerry Ingredients, says alternatives to non-organic celery powder all have functionality problems.
12:17 p.m. ET: Vermont dairy farmer Seth Gardner testifies for using Ivermectin to treat his animals (it was available in an emergency) and for copper sulfate as a foot bath. He says materials are only used on emergency basis, they practice preventative measures, and they want to keep their animals healthy. (Cornucopia’s reasoning opposing reapproval of Ivermectin starts on page 157 here: http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh.)
12:00 p.m. ET: Curtis Bennet, Clarkson Soy Products, testifies that too many loopholes exist in commercial availability (supporting use of non-organic ingredients). His company has developed another organic ingredient, de-oiled soy lecithin. Not one of the companies at this meeting, he says, can honestly say they have tried to buy organic de-oiled lecithin.
11:43 a.m. ET: Beth Unger, CROPP/Organic Valley, testifies for reapproval of fish oil. Consumers want this in their milk, she says. Unger also supports reapproval of non-organic celery powder, says there is no organic alternative for curing processed meats. NOSB member Nick Maravell, an organic farmer, says he produces processed meat products without non-organic celery powder.
11:37 a.m. ET: Phil LaRocca, farmer, winemaker and president of CCOF board, calls on NOSB to be vigilant on GMO contamination of organics. Says National Organic Program should put pressure on USDA for contamination fines.
11:35 a.m. ET: Jeffrey Bogosz, Ferrera Candy Co., wants more time to develop viable organic colors. Many colors, made from organic vegetables, do not yield the same quantity of coloring as non-organic veggies. (Cornucopia opposes the reapproval of non-organic colors. One reason is pigments extracted from fruit/veggie parts likely contain the highest level of contaminants. More on page 69 of Cornucopia’s comments at http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh)
11:07 a.m. ET: Troy Ikent, Hains Celestial, supports continued use of non-organic de-oiled lecithin. Says they will use organic if available. Calls xanthan gum a safe, effective thickener in organic foods.
11:05 a.m. ET: Rolf Carlsen of Stonyfield testifies that the NOSB should consider commercial availability before making any decision regarding removing non-organic/synthetic colors from the National List. He also asks for a clear definition of ancillary substances.
10:23 a.m. ET: Zareb Herman of Celestial Foods acknowledges potential health problems associated with phosphates. But because they are allowed in organic products in very small amounts, he says they should not contribute to health problems. Herman’s testimony differs from other industry reps’ who deny any health problems with phosphates.
10:15 a.m. ET: ICL, the manufacturer of phosphates for food uses, calls for relisting of phosphates. Says they are essential because of unique functions.
10:12 a.m. ET: CPKelco rep Cheryl Dane tells the NOSB that xanthan gum is obtained via bacterial fermentation, calling it a natural process. She supports not classifying it as a synthetic. (Such a change would remove NOSB control over use of the material in organics, instead leaving it in the hands of the USDA secretary. Cornucopia staff dispute the “natural claim.” Xanthan gum is obtained in a salt form, which is a chemical reaction done at the end of fermentation, thus this is a synthetic product.)
10:02 a.m. ET: A representative of CPKelco, the manufacturer of xanthan gum, calls it absolutely essential to organics. He claims there are no health issues from its consumption. (Digestive issues were among the concerns identified by Cornucopia in its comments).
9:54 a.m. ET: Nicholas Gardner of the International Food Additives Council, calls for relisting of xanthan gum and all phosphates on the National List. He particularly supports relisting potassium phosphate. He criticizes reports of adverse health effects as not representing the small doses we are exposed to. (Cornucopia opposes relisting of xanthan gum, more details on page 117 of our comments at http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh)
9:47 a.m. ET: Robin Hadlock Seeley, Ph.D., researcher from Cornell, requests that aquatic plant extracts (APE) not be allowed in organics. APE’s are derived in large part from rockweed, which is not a true kelp. Overharvest is occurring (Canadian government report), and NOAA has written a letter expressing concern about rockweed harvesting.
9:36 a.m. ET: Charlotte Vallaeys of Consumers Union says the NOSB should remove the listing on the National List for nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The board should then require petitions to the National List for individual nutrients that the FDA requires to be in food.
Vallaeys calls for a new Technical Review for phosphates, and requests that all votes on materials containing phosphates be tabled until the review comes out.
9:24 a.m. ET: Farmer Andy Jones tells the NOSB that he opposes organic certification for hydroponics and wants a moratorium. He says that biodegradable mulches should be allowed but with an annotation requiring a specific increase in bio-based components every five years.
9:11 a.m. ET: Christie Badger of the National Organic Coalition expresses concern about changes to the NOSB’s Policies and Procedures Manual, and requests that everyone gets to see a document highlighting the changes before the board votes on it.
She also recommends that the names of the actual authors appear in technical reports given the board for materials analysis. (Those names have been made secret by the National Organic Program.)
9:07 a.m. ET: NOSB public testimony resumes Tuesday morning. Greg Jackmauh testifies that The Cornucopia Institute, on behalf of organic stakeholders, has been documenting flagrant fraudulent activity on “factory farms” producing so-called organic meat, milk, and eggs. These “factory farms” are allowed to operate with USDA Organic Certification even though their practices in no way resemble the definition of the word “organic”. These farms damage the reputation of my Organic farm and hurt its bottom line.
Monday, October 26, 2015
6:15 p.m. ET: Dr. Jérôme Rigot, staff scientist for Cornucopia, discusses the use of conventional celery powder in processed organic meats. The World Health Organization, he says, just added prepared and cured meat products to the list of cancer causing agents due to the intake of nitrates and nitrites. Conventional celery powder, which is high in nitrites as produced by chemical intensive agriculture, contributes to increased nitrates intake in processed meats and should be reclassified.
5:06 p.m. ET: Rudy Amador of Dole says that Ethylene is critical to organic pineapple production. Many jobs would be lost if removed from use.
5:00 p.m. ET: Cornucopia staff scientist Linley Dixon testifies: “Annotations (restrictions) for specific copper uses and rates should be proposed. Most importantly, certifying agents and the NOP must enforce the diversity requirements of OFPA when considering whether or not to certify a farm in the first place to prevent the excessive need for copper sprays in tomato monocultures.”
4:40 p.m. ET: Steve Walker of certifier Midwest Organic Services Association: GMO contamination testing burden should not be on organic farmers, but on seed producers who should test their seeds.
He asks for guidance on how to handle GMO contamination prevention.
4:05 p.m. ET: Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides and a former NOSB member: The finding of the NOSB is that the board needs to ultimately review all the inerts so that Organic Food Production Act standards are met. What is happening now is a substantive change from that. The EPA list is a start, but we can’t rely on the EPA.
4:00 p.m. ET: Jake Hess testifies to the NOSB: I wrote the Northeast Organic Farming Association standards, and what is organic starts with the soil!
3:58 p.m. ET: Eric Sideman of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA): In my time working for MOFGA, we’ve gone from everyone we certified knowing the academic principles of organic farming in response to poor farming practices. Now, we certify 4-500 barns, many of which are farming because the profit is better with the organic label. Remember the rules don’t get changed to match these farmers, the farmers must change to match organic principles.
3:57 p.m. ET: Melody Meyer of UNFI supports biodegradable mulch as a replacement to plastic mulch.
Meyer also says Ethylene gas is essential to organic pineapple production.
Cornucopia disputes that position, and formal comments can be found on page 4 at http://bit.ly/1LxCzWh
3:54 p.m. ET: Abby Youngblood, National Organic Coalition: The Sunset review process needs to be revised and returned to previous rules.
She says ancillary substances should be reviewed individually.
3:28 p.m. ET: Karl Hammer of Vermont Compost Company: Hydroponics is radically new compared to the 500 million years of soil/plant interaction.
3:27 p.m. ET: Harriet Behar of MOSES offers a proposal to the NOP/NOSB on how to manage inerts in pesticides.
She supports a moratorium on hydroponics.
3:23 p.m. ET: Ed Maltby of Northeast Organic Dairy Farmers Alliance: We should be able to see the changes made to the Policies and Procedures Manual.
3:17 p.m. ET: Jim Gerritsen: As a member of the Agrarian elders (who combined have a total experience of over 800 years), we all agree Organic should be soil-based and there should be a moratorium on the certification of hydroponic operations. Gerritsen is an organic potato farmer from Maine and a Cornucopia policy advisor.
3:15 p.m. ET: Vermont Organic farmer Dave Chapman: I believe the hydroponic task force is a result of the fact that the NOP and the hydroponic growers do not support the NOSB 2010 recommendation to ban hydroponics.
3:06 p.m. ET: Jane Shay, Organic Farming Research Foundation: OFRF surveyed more than 1,000 farmers about research priorities, and at the top are soil health and fertility management.
3:04 p.m. ET: Terry Shistar, Beyond Pesticides, asks “How can the NOSB periodically review a list of 725 (and growing) inerts?” (in pesticide formulations)
3:01 p.m. ET: Dave Miskell testifies: We will be fighting for a moratorium on hydroponic organic certification.
3:00 p.m. ET: As public testimony continues, Steven Wisbaum, an organic dairy farmer, says, “The NOP’s continued support of the certification of large livestock farms that blatantly violate the long-standing core practice of livestock spending a large portion of their time on healthy, green pastures has hurt family farmers.”
2:32 p.m. ET: California organic dairyman Albert Straus testifies to the NOSB: I’m here to protect organic integrity. I’m here to ask certifiers to enforce the pasture rule. The rule of thumb for this area is one acre of pasture per milking cow and there are operations being certified that are not even coming close to this ratio.
12:53 p.m. ET: Cornucopia Codirector Mark Kastel testifies: What is the legacy of the National Organic Program? Fewer farmers and fewer organic acres. “CAFOs are likely producing half of the Organic milk today, 80% of eggs and 80-90% of soybeans are imported. Should we really be applauding the NOP today?”
To read Mark Kastel’s full testimony, click here.
11:40 a.m. ET: Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), attests to their commitment to Organics. That includes $5-6 million per year through research and extension to land grants, and about $25 million in competitive grants.
11:26 a.m. ET: NOSB Chair Richardson wants to reduce number of Sunset materials up for review at same time, asks for input on how to do.
10:57 a.m. ET: NOSB Chair Richardson: Annotations (usage restrictions) to Sunset materials “allowed,” many materials will go back to subcommittees for these.
10:35 a.m. ET: McEvoy on hydroponics: “The 2010 NOSB recommendation doesn’t clarify what hydroponics are. For us to move forward on this we need to clarify what is and isn’t hydroponics. As a result we have formed a task force to produce a report to the NOSB.” Many farmers are upset that the NOSB is already certifying hydroponic operations – a soil-less system. A protest is expected by farmers today.
10:06 a.m. ET: Besieged NOP Director Miles McEvoy: “Protecting organic integrity is first and foremost what we do.”
9:59 a.m. ET: Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy addresses the NOSB meeting, virtually thanking Jean Richardson for her service as chair of the board.
9:56 a.m. ET: Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross commends the organic community for their involvement in the formation and continued improvement of organic standards.
9:30 a.m. ET: NOSB fall meeting begins. NOSB member Bondera notes that NOSB member Austin is virtually present at the meeting, without a written process in place in their policy-procedures manual.