The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) fall proceedings kick off at noon ET October 13 with a public comment session continuing through October 14, followed by the public meeting October 19-21. Cornucopia supplies NOSB members with independent analyses of agenda items, relying on publicly funded research and input from authentic organic farmers, consumers, and other stakeholders. Watch the NOSB public comment period and the public meeting on Zoom. Read Cornucopia’s report from oral comments on October 13 and 14. Here’s what to listen for:
- NOSB’s vote on the removal of the synthetic additive carrageenan from certified organic foods (Read our formal comments; carrageenan is addressed on page 11.)
- Updates on much needed rules that may be proposed in the near future, potentially including Origin of Livestock (sourcing of organic dairy cows), Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (requirements for legitimate outdoor access and animal welfare), and Strengthening Organic Enforcement (deterring organic fraud)
- A discussion on the NOSB’s draft letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack on climate change initiatives (Read Cornucopia’s feedback on that letter in our comments on page 1.)
- The petition, supported by Cornucopia, to prohibit ammonia extracts.
Cornucopia seeks a robust discussion of the science and the process for prohibiting troubling inputs. Ammonia extracts are the preferred source of fertility in conventional and GMO fields because they are extremely high in nitrogen. “Organic” ammonia extracts produced using manure from livestock feedlots could short-circuit critical biological processes in the soil.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021: NOSB Meeting
12 PM ET: Call to Order, Agenda Overview, Introductions
Jennifer Tucker, National Organic Program Deputy Administrator, gives some opening remarks and calls the meeting to order. Acknowledged Board members who are on their last meeting (Steve Ela, Sue Baird, and Asa Bradman). Introduces two special guests for opening remarks. Special guests for opening remarks include: Karen Ross, Secretary for California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and Jenny Lester Moffitt the Under Secretary for Marketing (see this article concerning Moffitt’s appointment).
Karen Ross, Secretary for CDFA opening remarks:
Happy to be here. Welcome. I do have a passion for the food & wine sector of CA Ag. There is a $50B organic industry in CA – farm gate, no value added. Proud of our state organic program – for consumer trust and ensuring integrity of organic, we feel this is an important program – have really improved our coordination with our advisory council. In the past year, our program and county officials, have conducted 1,571 inspections, 129 complaints, and 514 samples for residue testing. Analytical chemistry lab is important for us for our programs. We’ve had 2 high profile cases. After doing our investigation, we had to use a stop-use notice and statewide quarantine of a product that was adulterated with prohibited substances. Emphasizes the importance of our chem lab in being able to move on this. Very serious case. June – 2nd case – working in conjunction with Dept of Pesticide Regulation, we were dealing with contamination of a number of prohibited substances. CA is the largest producer of organic crops – CA has grown 40% since 2016 to 2.8M acres. We continue to grow that. Important to us to have a program that supports our producers, handlers and processors. Our advisory committee is made up of people from all stakeholder groups. Gives me updates on where we would like to see the program go, what we can do to improve education and outreach and sing the praises of organic, and increasingly focused on research and what we can do to grow this sector. Subcommittee will be digging into what is the next chapter here in CA. Climate Change – importance of our organic producers and role they are playing. In our budget, we have a total of $1.1B to invest in climate-smart ag – energy and water focus – healthy soils program will have $160M for incentive programs over the next two years. CA pollinator partnership will have some money invested. $42M for Ag Conservation Planning Grants – new program – legislature asked that we prioritize $7M for organic transition. Excited about these resources. Know that farmers and ranchers can lead on climate change solution, sequestering carbon, and creating resiliency to climate and drought. Looking forward to the outcomes from the NOSB.
Jenny Lester Moffitt the Under Secretary for Marketing opening remarks:
Pleasure to be here. What are we going to do to celebrate the graduating NOSB members? NOSB is such an important dialogue and important forum for organic community. Thank you for all of your perspectives. Steve, thank you for your service as chair for the past two years. As Jenny mentioned, I previously was an organic farmer and know how important organic is. Thank you all for your service and the robust conversations that happen here at the NOSB and across the Department of the USDA, as well. As I started in August, one of the first conversations I had with the Secretary was regarding organic production. This is about growing all markets in the US, especially our food markets, and organic production is a key part of that, and the Secretary is interested in that. Big priorities – As Secretary Ross mentioned, climate smart ag is a key priority. Announced last week that we will have 12 cabinet members attending the Climate Summit in Glasgow. Shows commitment. Know how essential and key ag can be to climate change solution. Looking to solicit ideas and opinions on how we use the power of government in partnership with industry and private investors… and we know climate is a key part of that. All of the things that we talk about in the OSP – so many pieces that really are important for climates and agriculture. Organic is key in our conversations. I know you are having a conversation later today about that, and I look forward to getting a report back on that. Equity is key to our organizations – want to make sure that we aren’t leaving certain groups behind. Important part of what we talk about and what we are doing. Goal within Ag Marketing Service is building climate smart, resilient, and more equity food and market system. Doing this in the meat and poultry industry, as many of you might have heard. Focused on not just regulatory approaches, but investments in new processing capacity in the meat and poultry industry. As we do that, we are mindful of all of the markets – including the organic market. $4B for Biden’s Build Back Better initiative, with $200M for organic transition. Hearing and soliciting feedback from the industry about what that looks like. As we think about transition, we are hearing that market development is key. Equity is also important and making sure we have systems in place to shepherd throughout that process. Excited that we now have a Senior Advisor for Organic Markets – Marty Keiser. Key to this is shepherding a lot of the processes that I just talked about, but also the work across the government so that we are taking a holistic approach. Important that all of the areas are working to best serve organic processors, consumers, and standards. We know the work of NOSB, feedback and work that you’ve had on informing us on different rulemaking is invaluable to us. Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) and Origin of Livestock (OOL) final rules have been written and we are starting the review process on moving them forward. Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule has also been written and based on the 2017 final rule and has started the review process. Hoping for Spring 2022 publications dates. Committed to tackling the complicated issues of the National List and Inerts. Thank you to all of you and to Jenny for the work that you’ve done.
Introducing the National Organic Program (NOP) National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) members:
Jenny Tucker then introduces and recognizes the other NOP members on the call before turning the meeting over to NOSB chair, Steve Ela:
- MarniKarlin, Senior Advisor for Organic Markets
- Michelle Arsenault, Advisory Board Specialist
- Erin Healy, Standards Division Director
- Jared Clark, National List Manager
- Andrea Holms, Materials Specialist
- Devon Patillo, Agricultural Marketing Specialist
Steve Ela, Board chair, takes over facilitation of the meeting. Takes roll call of the NOSB members—all NOSB members are present and accounted for. Each NOSB members gives a short introduction about their background (see NOSB bios for more information).
Organic Producer Seats: Steve Ela (January 2017 – January 2022) Nathan Powell-Palm (January 2020 – January 2025) Amy Bruch (January 2021 – January 2026) Logan Petrey (January 2021 – January 2026) Environmentalists / Resource Conservationists Seats: Asa Bradman (January 2017 – January 2022) James R. “Rick” Greenwood (May 2018 – January 2023) Wood Turner (January 2020 – January 2025) Consumer / Public Interest Advocates Seats: Sue Baird (January 2017 – January 2022) Carolyn Dimitri (January 2021 – January 2026) Brian Caldwell (January 2021 – January 2026) Handlers / Processor Seats: Kimberly Huseman (January 2020 – January 2025) Gerard “Jerry” D’Amore (January 2020 – January 2025) USDA Certifier Seat: Kyla Smith (January 2021 – January 2026) Retailer Seat: Mindee Jeffery (January 2020 – January 2025) Scientist (Toxicology, Ecology, or Biochemistry) Seat: NOTE: the current Scientist seat is vacant, meaning there are only 14 NOSB members at this time. Steve Ela makes some housekeeping comments: due NOSB member traveling constraints, we are going to swap materials and CACS time-frames (Materials SC will be at the end of the day today). All of the NOSB meeting will be available via transcript. Handling SC: minor change Wood turner will present his two materials and carrageenan will follow that issue. Voting will be done alphabetically by Board member. We are not announcing new NOSB members at this time, but looking forward to the time we can introduce them.
NOSB Secretary’s Report
Mindee Jeffery: No corrections or comments to the minutes from the Spring/April 2021 meeting. Minutes are accepted.
NOSB Chair’s Report
Steve Ela gives his report.
USDA / NOP Update:
Dr. Jenny Tucker gives the NOP update and introduces Marni Karlin, JD (Senior Advisor for Organic and Emerging Markets).
Marni Karlin joins USDA with two decades of experience in policy and the organic and emerging agricultural markets space – including consulting with stakeholders across the organic sector from producers to certifiers, service as Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel of the Organic Trade Association, and serving as the founding Executive Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Food Safety Coalition. Karlin has several years of government experience, including time as Counsel to Senator Herb Kohl and Counsel for the Antitrust Modernization Commission. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School and her Bachelor of Arts in International Economics and Politics from George Washington University. Karlin also has a certification in global organic leadership from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Organic Leadership Academy.
Marni Karlin gives some brief words: Hello everyone. Recently appointed as Senior Advisor for Organic and Emerging Markets. Coming to you from DC, but hail from Louisiana. To members of public that participate in advisory process, thank you for the engagement. Important to keeping organic strong. Ensuring the organic is part of the Biden/Vilsack pledge to build a more sustainable agriculture system:
- More meaningful engagement with all stakeholders. Context of meetings like these and other opportunities to engage with stakeholders
- Continuous improvement of org standards, and market development.
- Devoting critical thought and energy to support organic transition.
- Doing all of these things using the lens of equity—not leaving any groups behind.
I work across entire dept to ensure organic is at the table; in the conversations at USDA to take into account organic perspective. Ensuring that organic is in the conversation across the govt, like in climate smart ag conversations. Call attention to: Climate Smart Ag and Forestry Partnership. There is a public comment period open until Nov 1st, that will inform funding decisions for climate-smart practices and marketing opportunities. Energized to ensure organic stakeholders to submit projects for funding. Steve mentioned he hopes to see NOSB lean into this topic—agree with that hope. Wish everyone a productive and great NOSB meeting!
Jenny Tucker thanks Marni and continues with brief USDA updates: Full NOP update in the OILC: NOP presentations (38-minute voice-over slides). All of that will not be repeated here.
- Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) and Origin of Livestock (OOL) final rules have been written and we are starting the review process on moving them forward.
- Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) is also written and currently going back and forth with legal team on that rule (Sec Vilsack charged them to work on that in June.
- Still working to investigate problem of “inerts”—having conversations with the EPA. Are continuing to work on National List updates.
Opportunity for the Board to have some Q&A with Tucker:
Wood Turner: I want to bring up an issue that I continue to be concerned about – biodiversity and native ecosystems – we are all concerned about this. We heard Ross and Moffitt talk about this. I am reminded that there is nothing more important than sequestering carbon, and there is nothing more important to this than native ecosystems. We should not be allowing producers to destroy these systems. Before I joined the Board, the NOSB made a recommendation in 2016, but nothing has happened in rulemaking. What is the status? What do we need to do to move this forward? Do we need a survey? I frankly welcome any input from any other Board members. Really concerns me – sitting out there and not really moving anywhere.
Tucker: This is an outstanding Board recommendation. Part of what we have been doing since the new administration came in is taking a look at what all of the different priorities should be moving forward. Top ones selected to move forward was OOL, SOE, and OLPP, and National List rules. Those are the first-line priorities. Once those rules get out of the building, then we are able to take a look at what the look at what the next priorities will be. Those are decisions that we will work very closely with the administration on what the priorities should be for the NOP. We have staffed up the standards division. For a while, we were short staffed and we weren’t writing a lot of rules. As you can see, there are 3 rules in clearance right now. I believe this shows the added capacity. The next step becomes identifying the priorities that we will take on. That is a conversation that we will be having with the administration. We see a lot of folks writing in about the priorities, and this will be one of them. We have to get the key priorities that are on the plate now and then we will start new rules.
Wood: I want to say that there is a very clear connection here with climate change.
NOTE: As background information, NOSB voted near unanimously to protect native ecosystems in 2018. They sought to change the current perverse regulation that incentivizes the immediate destruction of native ecosystems and conversion to organic production as a cheaper and faster option than transitioning existing conventional farmland over a three-year period. Protecting native ecosystems slows climate change and is a natural extension of the current organic standards and administrative climate. Cornucopia recently commented on the legal authority for making the NOSB’s recommendation on Eliminating the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems to Organic Production a regulatory reality. More can be read about native ecosystems from the leaders in this push: the Wild Farm Alliance.
Amy Bruch: Issue that is separate than that – on the minds of many Midwest producers: non-direct contact drift from Dicamba – can travel over 2 miles and hit crops within 2 weeks of application — point of source is unknown. Challenge for producers – no liability insurance or crop insurance. Whole cost of impact falls on organic producer or specialty crop producer. Impacts many crops, although we can only see it happening on legumes, veggies, and … Does create a lot barriers, expensive, and turning people away from transitioning to organic, because if they get impacted, they may have to start the transition over again or sell their crops as conventional.
Tucker: So important to remember the challenges that certifiers and producers are facing every day out there. Drift is something that organic farmers and certifiers have to contend with. There aren’t any easy answers on this. I wish that I had the silver bullet. There have been different certifiers and producers – their communication about buffer zones, preventative practices, talking to neighbors, suite of communication and management tools, and I understand they do not answer all of these problems when it comes to some very significant chemicals out there. Three isn’t an easy answer. Important that we continue to talk about the problem and share what some of the tools might be. The liability question is real. I have seen times where instead of an operator choosing to withdrawal a field, they will request that the field be suspended instead of withdrawing. If it is a suspension, then they have better leverage if they want to seek compensation or damage, but sometimes it is really hard to know where it came from. This is a real problem for many producers, and we are open to thoughts on solutions that we can control within the Program.
Asa Bradman: Diversity and membership on the Board. Relates to whether there should be some support for people to participate on the Board that do not have the financial or time resources to devote from their current employer. I’ve talked to a lot of people that I think would be valuable candidates for the Board, and we are leaving them out. I understand that in OFPA there is specificity that participation should be voluntary, but I think there are ways that we should be able to address this. For many people, losing time means losing income. This is a discussion within our community, and I think we need to think about how we can move forward on this, specifically for diversity of membership.
Tucker: That is a valuable point, and lots of folks within the community are raising this question. Numbers-wise, it is hard for small farmers—for any size farmer—to apply and serve on the Board because of those challenges. The reality is that OFPA has a line about “shall be reimbursed for travel” and such. Does not have anything about a stipend. Creative solutions are needed. The answer that we’ve gotten in the past when we’ve talked with the liaison’s office that deals with Boards, we have been told that absolutely it is not allowed within our statutes. I agree that there may be other creative solutions out there for reimbursing time or labor. The replacement labor is real and expenses that are involved. I’m very real to considering options within the FACA limitations. I appreciate that this topic is becoming more prominent in discussion of stakeholders and the Board. I agree that diversity comes in many different forms.
Steve Ela: I think that is a great question. I can tell you that hiring replacement trucking alone is a minimum of $1,000 per meeting, and that doesn’t include labor. We have willingly done that, but for smaller farmers that have to hire replacement labor, there is a bottom-line impact that you have to be at a point where you can handle that.
Carolyn Dimitri: Related to under secretary’s comments regarding the pot of money for transitioning producers. Something that I learned in my research, we have a lot of BIPOC farmers that use certified natural labels and such rather than the NOP label. I do know that the NOP is about rulemaking, but I know you have a couple of new economists on Board. Are you able to address some of these questions? How does the NOP work on people that are left out of access?
Tucker: That’s where Marni’s work comes in, asking “what are the barriers?” How do we support more local structures that facilitate – maybe folks don’t want to hear from the NOP on that, but from folks that are within their local geographies? I think one of Marni’s important roles is to help coordinate those conversations. We do have Ag Economists, split between standards with Ag Cost-Benefit Analyses, and compliance and enforcement with Yield Analyses and Trade Studies. I think this is something we could offer some expertise in. Transition is one of the things that Marni is particularly interested in and focused on. There are a lot of other USDA programs interested in that problem, as well.
Steve Ela: Could you give us an updated-on List 4s and List 3. Can you give us your AMPR update?
Tucker: Based on my commitment to maintain this as a priority at the program level, we have drafted a Draft Advanced Notice of Rulemaking. Before we are ready to publish that, we wanted to socialize that proposed rule with EPA. An awful lot of the Board’s recommendations on this have relied on EPA and the Safer Choice Program (SCP). We’ve had conversations with EPA and SCIL, and those have been interesting and enlightening conversations. I think while SCP sounds like it would be the right place, it may in fact not be. There have been some community members that say they are not sure that Safer Choice is where this should live. Safer Choice is not a regulatory program, and [the NOP is]. They have certain criteria that is different from something that is codified like our program. They have a very different set point of products they are looking at – primarily cleaning products. Also, the issue of how EPA is looking at lists in general. Those conversations have helped us. There are no easy answers here. I understand there is a lot of interest in the program solving this “inerts” program, and we will have to solve it together, and there will be tough trade-offs that will have to be made. The AMPR is moving forward. Comment to the public is please come with solutions. While EPA is linked to us, it is its own independent industry. We cannot go to them and say “please do this.” We have been impressed by EPA folks that we’ve met, but they have their own mission that needs to be balanced with other agency needs. We are doing a lot of background work on this to make the best AMPR that we can put out there for comment. This is going to be a long road, and I want to put that out there.
Steve Ela: I will put out there to stakeholders that we know the problem. This is the opportunity to solve the problem. We talked about stakeholder wisdom, and this is the place where we really need it.
Asa Bradman: I’d like to comment more about the inert issue. I think that the Safer Choice Program was conceptually a model – I want to mention that we’ve had some excellent comments on this from stakeholders – Beyond Pesticides, National Organic Coalition, OTA – have really articulated some clear paths forward. We should go back and read those comments. Have some excellent road maps and guideposts to move ahead on that.
Jenny Tucker: One of the challenges is going to be balancing the criteria with the resources available to implement them. How do we balance resources to get the best outcome that we can without us needing an “inerts” division. How do we do that? There is going to be some kind of tradeoff with what are the realistic staff members that would need to be funded to work on this. You are talking about lists that have essentially gone away. It is going to take labor to figure out how to work on it. What is the Delta – the work that needs to be done? Who is available to work on it? How much is it going to cost?
Asa Bradman: I appreciate that. One argument to perhaps move that ahead a bit is to look at the scale of the organic market and how research dollars are spent. I think that if it would be more proportional, I think there would be a lot more resources to work on that.
Carolyn Dimitri: Can you give more precise timeline for OOL? Thinking about NE farmers that have lost their buyers; it’s a huge failure of regulatory process.
Tucker: I can tell you where it is and what the next step is. OOL and SOE are both in legal review right now. The next step is AMS, then to ag regulatory programs where everyone at USDA gets the opportunity to weight in. Then it goes to OMB and OMB gets 90 days. The prediction is Spring 2022. Three major rules are going alongside other rulemaking. But this is the clearance pipeline and the administration is aware of and concerned with the NE dairy farmer losses. The OLPP want on our list at the beginning of the year plus we are meeting with EPA on “inerts” – there is a lot going on! It helps to have an Under Secretary that used to be an organic farmer. And these rules have been looked at before-Spring 2022 is pretty fast-tracking!
Steve Ela: expresses appreciation to Tucker and the breakdown of the NOP report. Continuous improvement is something that the Board should brainstorm about—how might this happen? Open discussion in short time remaining. I think climate change is a big one. What’s a list you might all want to pick from for priorities?
Carolyn Dimitri: Linking biodiversity more explicitly into climate change is important.
Mindee Jeffery: Work on organic seed requirements.
Brian Caldwell: In the written comments, one of our stakeholders brought up the issue of all of what I consider nasty chemicals that can be in packaging. I wish I could remember some of the names of these things—BPA—and some of these “forever chemicals” that seem to be potentially ubiquitous. I do not understand the extent of this. I’m sure there is a history with this within the NOSB – I do not know what it is. I think it is very important, and I think that our stakeholders are not going to be encountering toxic chemicals in organic.
Mindee Jeffery: Feel passionate about excluded methods issue and consumers seek transparency about how that tech shows up in food system. We have not achieved a level of assistance and democracy for our place in food system. We need to get transparency for WHERE excluded methods are appearing in food system. Big issue and the community continues to express it as a concern. However, that can work, I hope we find a graceful path forward.
Steve Ela: Maybe that can be an executive committee where people can chime in [on that issue]. I’d love to see stakeholders engaged [even on things that are not specifically on NOSB work agendas.
2 PM ET: Lunch break (till 3PM ET)
3 PM ET: Policy Development Subcommittee (PDS)
Public Comment Process—Discussion Document
Mindee Jeffery, chair of the PDS introduces the topic. Questions were raised in this discussion document. First question, should the NOSB move to entirely virtual public comment or hold both virtual and in-person comments? There was support for both options among commenters. Value in virtual for accessibility. Others noted importance and value of in-person comments. Another positive change was the pre-meeting oral comments because it allows the NOSB to do more evaluation. Very balanced response form stakeholders. Any other reflections from the Board?
Jerry D’Amore: Support the comment that the ability to incorporate the oral comments into Board thought process is invaluable. We benefit from these [stakeholder comments].
Mindee Jeffery: On the second question, would attendance be reduced if there were only virtual comments? Folks commented on the carbon footprint of traveling to meetings and that access is important (especially for farmers overcoming barrier of harvest schedules). There was some concern expressed about impact of larger organizations would have more access to NOSB if they were in-person.
Steve Ela: Agree with the comments. Often think about the pineapple growers coming up – much more powerful to see them in person – but yet totally see them on the other side. As a farmer, these are my busiest parts of the year. As a farmer, having them balanced for everyone is important. Not making a statement that one is better than other – see both sides of that coin.
Jerry D’Amore: I would think that we wouldn’t lose but 10% on the in-person. I think we give much broader access to the public.
Kim Huseman: To Steve’s point, I think you will find people in both segments of this that would find benefit. I do not know if there is a way to incorporate both – one day in person, one day virtual. As a stakeholder, many of us that what we do on a daily basis does not revolve around the NOSB, does this allow us to carve out time to make comment. Is it possible to develop SurveyMonkey and poll them as to whether commenters would come in-person? To know of the people that commented last week would they have or not have come in-person.
Mindee Jeffrey: backtracking a little: the access the highlights are that multiple people can listen in when virtual. The virtual was spoken to in that it creates a bigger audience and more people can comment. But many people don’t want to lose the in-person either. There may be more time for in-person expert panels. People were not taking a side and it’s very illuminating. Positive creative feedback.
Steve Ela: Believe that the format we’ve used in the past with two webinars that were virtual and in-person oral comments as well satisfies both sides of the coin. When webinars didn’t fill up everyone had a chance to speak (no wait list). Bigger organizations often waited for in-person. We need to balance the two sides equally (since individuals were more likely to comment virtually).
Mindee Jeffrey: So strange to be in pandemic reality. People seemed to like both concerning oral comments looking at Question 3: Restrictions due to the pandemic aside, would the availability of a live-stream meeting discourage in-person attendance? Live-stream meetings should be the baseline was the preference expressed. Some people like Zoom better than livestream because more interactive. People would use the virtual platform after the pandemic. Support a hybrid after the pandemic as a service. Addressing Question 4: Is the practice of scheduling multiple oral comments by a single organization (such as a business/company/non-profit/trade group) inherently unfair? Is there a path by which the Board can field multiple areas of expertise from a single organization, while balancing the limits of time, fairness, and the importance of receiving a wide range of stakeholder feedback? Stakeholders really understand the diversity of expertise—expression that everyone deserves their opportunity to comment was expressed, even if from the same organization. Some suggestion that a more equitable distribution of oral comment slots: like not allowing multiple comments on Crops SC, for example from the same org. There was also a suggestion for reserving slots specifically for farmers. Stakeholders expressed value in hearing from a wide range of commenters.
Rick Greenwood: When you go through comments, especially on written ones but oral too, how do you balance a comment form an organization like OTA (that has hundreds of members) with an individual? I like having more people speak because it seems to balance the playing field a little. Tough situation. Any organization—you don’t know how many of their members/followers support that organization stance. What’s the weight of organizational comments?
Mindee Jeffrey: Encouraging that the community sees this difficulty. There are some solutions that can help elevate diverse voices.
Wood Turner: Issue could be addressed by organizations that have broad membership indicate that [explicitly] to capture that weight of the comments. It concerns me is the repetition you see from organizational comments. If there are larger orgs we could [arrange] those comments all together, for example giving them 10-minute block of time without having it mixed in with short one-off presentations from people speaking for themselves.
Mindee Jeffrey: I saw one suggestion that if an organization signs up multiple slots on the same subject that they move the [extra slots] to the bottom of the list.
Sue Baird: I agree it was interesting that people did not find that large organizations that had several speakers was in conflict. Was also interested in commenters saying we are losing our farmer voice, and the suggestions of [reserving time] for farmers to give their opinions. Farmers say they don’t have time to get signed up; time slots filling up fast. That’s valuable and something we need to work on. We need to give rural America their voice.
Mindee Jeffrey: I hope farmers feel encouraged to sign up for oral slots.
Kyla Smith: I think it was encouraging to me to see that in large part stakeholders didn’t necessarily feel that there was a big tip. I was trying to think about the amount of logistics in trying to police the comments if stakeholders didn’t find it to be that big of a deal. I certainly want to hear from all different kinds of stakeholders. Farmers are large and small, and handlers are large and small, and it’s important to remember that our industry is scale neutral. Trying to think about how to raise up all of the voices. What if those are large farmers, and smaller handlers get displaced?
Mindee Jeffrey: Logistics are real in that situation.
Amy Bruch: I think the hybrid approach and getting back into being able to meet. I love the community’s perspective. I think that the outreach and making some of the stakeholder groups aware of the opportunity is a bottleneck. I think there is a bit of a need to do the outreach because these issues do impact these larger and smaller farmers and handlers, and their voices are beneficial.
Nate Powell-Palm: I thought it was one of the coolest things to get a text after oral comments that said, “I was on my tractor all of the time I was commenting.” I also thought it was great to see some organizations give some coaching on how to get up in front of us and give oral comments. I would be grateful if larger members would call out how many members they were representing. They are ember-approved policies and positions.
Mindee Jeffery: I did hear some cautionary comments that our stakeholders feel that in-person comments hold greater weight.
Amy Bruch: Maybe extending the timeframe in which written comments could be delivered. These large groups that aggregate farmers voices – it takes time for them to reach out to their communities. Maybe look at the timeframe in which we are asking for this information.
Mindee Jeffery: I love the depth of sincerity that goes into everything. As a new member, I was overwhelmed by the amount of comments that we got, and then I realized all of the work that goes into putting those comments together.
Steve Ela: Two things – I have always valued the written comments a little more than the oral, because people have time to write them and go back and edit and run by other people. Some people just get nervous during oral comments, and I don’t want that to come across as not being as focused or whatever. Balancing both is necessary. To Amy’s point, it would be great to give people more time, and I’m sure everyone would love that, but what does that mean for the Board and having enough time to think about things? Real challenge. We’ve had time of less than 30-day comments, and that’s been really hard. The other thing I think would be valuable – we have “identify your name and affiliation” – but consultants are tough. Often, they will not identify who is paying them for their consulting and may come across as individuals when someone is actually paying them. It would be so nice for the Board to know that. I would really like to see more identification of who you are work for.
Jerry D’Amore: In terms of giving voice to the various categories of stakeholders, there is one thing to consider, and another that is in our power to do. I think that what was on our agenda as “hot items” will drive that. I think the thing that was done really well by our team, you give broader voice when you ask a question, and we did that. We gave broader voice to the farming community to really express themselves, I thought.
Mindee Jeffery: thank you everyone for your passion on this subject. Enjoyed hearing the integrity coming through on this topic.
Steve Ela: I was also surprised there were not more people wanting to limit comments.
3:30 PM ET: Livestock Subcommittee (PDS)
Kim Huseman the Livestock SC chair begins the presentation, starting with Sunset review process.
Brian Caldwell: This is a benign substance that seemed to come through in the discussions and the TR. Activated charcoal is used to treat poisoning of animals, and is the treatment of choice for that. Only small amount is used. There was a little bit of a question of disposal of it in manure, but it seems to me that having some activated charcoal in the manure is neutral at worse, and might be beneficial in binding up toxins. There were 11 comments in the written comments. None opposed. Only on that considered an annotation for the handling of manure with activated charcoal, but I personally do not see that as an important issue. We cannot change annotations now. Comments on activated charcoal received for the Spring 2021 NOSB meeting were strongly in favor of its continued listing as an approved synthetic substance for use in livestock care. It is used infrequently in relatively small amounts and has little environmental impact. Furthermore, its use can reduce or prevent livestock distress and death.
Motion to remove activated from the National List:
Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from National List fails.
Mindee Jeffery presents this material: High level of support to re-list this substance. It may be redundant with electrolytes, but that’s not a concern of [most commenters]. One stakeholder put some pressure on whether or not withdrawal times might be important. A commercially available concern because it might be derived from a GMO organism at some point. Strong support for necessary use of this substance.
Sue Baird: This was a comment from OFARM and I thought very important. Both for this and calcium propionate. They made the point that these materials are not redundant. Each of the materials have their own mode of action, and each might work differently based on site specific, including different areas of the country. Need to remember that we are an international organization and must remember these types of things.
Mindee Jeffrey: Agree. Overall tenor was that we are addressing milk fever well and all substances on the list are important.
Subcommittee Vote: Motion to remove calcium borogluconate from the National List.Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from National List fails.
Sue Baird: It is a synthetic material. It is an electrolyte. Some comments that it’s redundant, but then compelling arguments that they are not redundant. Treats milk fever. If you don’t treat it, you’re usually going to lose your cow. Not what we want. We treat our animals humanely. Same comments as previous material. As an aside, I love it when the different organizations quantify how many farmers are using the materials – CCOF, OEFFA, PCO – did this. That is very helpful to us as we read those comments.
Subcommittee Vote: Motion to remove calcium propionate from the National List Motion.
Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from National List fails.
Chlorine materials – Calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, Hypochlorous acid generated from electrolyzed water, sodium hypochlorite
Reference:§205.603 (a)(10) Chlorine materials—disinfecting and sanitizing facilities and equipment. Residual chlorine levels in the water shall not exceed the maximum residual disinfectant limit under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- Calcium hypochlorite
- Chlorine dioxide
- Hypochlorous acid – generated from electrolyzed water
- Sodium hypochlorite
Petition(s): 2016 (Hypochlorous Acid) Technical Report: 2006 TR (Chlorine materials); 2017 Limited Scope TR (Hypochlorous Acid) Past NOSB Actions:10/1995 NOSB minutes and vote; 05/2006 NOSB sunset recommendation; 10/2010 NOSB recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 04/2016 Recommendation to add hypochlorous acid; 11/2017 sunset recommendation Recent Regulatory Background: Added to National List 2/20/2001 (65 FR 80547); Sunset renewal notice 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420); Hypochlorous acid added to NL effective 1/28/2019 (83 FR 66559); Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577). Sunset Date:1/28/2024 (hypochlorous acid); 10/30/2024 (Calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, sodium hypochlorite)
Nate Powell-Palm presents: Comments were consistent that these were needed materials, as part of sanitization systems. A well-rounded sanitation system is needed in the organic system and most comments supported keeping these on the list.
Asa Bradman: I have a lot of thoughts with respect to chlorine sanitizers. Some of this comes up with respect to research priorities. Sanitizers have raised concerns because they are the most conventional material we use. I like the idea of a comprehensive review of these compounds. There are excellent public comments on how to evaluate these sanitizers (NOC, OTA) and how to think about how they are listed. I encourage everyone to re-read OTA comments from last Spring—page 6, I think that outlines the perspectives of a lot of stakeholders. Having a section dedicated specifically to sanitizers as important pesticides we use in organic, evaluating what’s used in food-contact, and doing a check-off of that they are being used for. There are some materials that don’t need to be listed if they are used with a rinse. There should be a work agenda item to go deeper into this. These materials are essential and we should clarify how they are being used.
Nate Powell-Palm: That is a theme, especially with the sanitizer panel last Fall. Thank you.
Asa Bradman: We have two new [sanitizer] materials under petition, as a reminder.
Steve Ela: We are going to vote on each of these materials separately.
Motion to remove Calcium hypochlorite from the National List Motion: Kim Huseman; Seconded by Nate Powell-Palm. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from National List fails. NOTE: Worth noting that Brian Caldwell expressed his reluctance to vote “no” based on the material.
Motion to remove chlorine dioxide from the National List Motion: Kim Huseman; Seconded by Nate Powell-Palm .
Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from National List fails.
Motion to remove Hypochlorous acid generated from electrolyzed water from the National List Motion: Kim Huseman; Seconded by Nate Powell-Palm.
Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from National List fails.
Motion to remove sodium hypochlorite from the National List Motion: Kim Huseman; Seconded by Nate Powell-Palm. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from National List fails.
Kim Huseman: At the time of voting out of subcommittee, we were waiting on the TR. Since then, it was deemed to be accepted. Another tool for producers as a gut protectant. Another way we can combat acute issues. A few comments very similar to the Spring meeting – overwhelmingly in support of relisting. To note, both kaolin and pectin are both on the NL on their own. The only alternatives that were listed on the TR were mostly listed as preventative care as feed additives, and other products that are on the NL. In addition to what Sue said, PCO specifically said there are 23 operators that have approved kaolin pectin in their operating plan. Of all of the sunset review items that I have, that was overwhelmingly one to consider. One comment was made that pectin, if used in one form is non-synthetic. If that is the only form of pectin that is utilized, it could be considered non-synthetic. To me, that is not up for debate today. No questions.
Motion to remove kaolin pectin from the National List Motion by Sue Baird; Seconded by Mindee Jeffrey. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from the National List fails.
Sue Baird: Mineral oil is used as an internal lubricant in the case of impaction. When the cow is eating a lot of grasses and becomes impacted; there are comments asking about a limited TR, which we got back a new TR that did not shed any new significant difference but did point out some preventative measures on how to prevent the impaction. Also used for bloat and again that occurs when animals are actively grazing lush spring pasture. The crux is if you don’t treat impaction or bloat you will lose the animal. Veterinarian commented: Mineral oil has the property of not being absorbed by the gut (unlike other oils where there is possible re-absorption). Quickly reverses digestive upset (according to vet).
Motion to remove mineral oil from the National List Motion by: Kim Huseman; Seconded by: Brian Caldwell. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from the National List fails.
Nutritive supplements – injectable trace minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes
Nate Powell-Palm: Really enjoyed this semester LS committee because we got to talk about materials that highlight the focused efforts to maintain good animal welfare. This falls into the limited number of tools that producers have for that reason. Very consistent comments from the community – critical to the toolbox, and no one is looking for them to go away. With injectable nutritive supplements, they are a last-ditch effort to help an animal when they are refusing feed. Critical to keep on the list.
Motion to remove nutritive supplements from the National List Motion by: Nate Powell-Palm; Seconded by: Brian Caldwell. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from the National List fails.
Mindee Jeffery: Stakeholders see this as essential; there was good discussion on prevention through proper nutrition. Appreciated the stakeholders eliminating other methods for ketosis recovery that they’ve tried, noting that alternatives are not always effective. No questions.
Motion to remove propylene glycol from the National List Motion by: Mindee Jeffery; Seconded by: Nate Powell-Palm. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from the National List fails.
Sodium chlorite, acidified (ASC)
Kim Huseman: Similarly written, but the delineation between the two – one is as a pre-dip and the other is as a post-dip. One from an infection standpoint, and one as a sanitation standpoint. Few comments, similar to the Spring. There are operations who utilize ASC in their program. They consider the solutions have superior antimicrobial activity against E Coli and mastitis. Environmentally friendly – breaks down in water. Individuals that commented, one mentioned the use of chlorine materials and encouraged the community to take a harder look at these in general, trying to become as chlorine-free as possible. As it stands today, by removing ACS, it would prevent some operations from having this tool and could impact milk quality.
Motion to remove sodium chlorite, acidified from the National List Motion by: Kim Huseman, Seconded by: Nate Powell-Palm. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from the National List fails.
Brian Caldwell: a more problematic substance than activated charcoal, because its manufacture creates more toxic byproducts. Zinc is a micronutrient, but it can build up in the soil. Of the 11 comments: none were for de-listing, but there were a couple comments that it should be used in rotation, that soil should be monitored for zinc levels after use (similar for copper sulfate which is used for the same purpose). One commenter said it should be used only after all alternatives had failed. Pluses are it’s less toxic/has less impact than copper sulfate, which is the number one product in use for foot rot in ruminants, so it’s probably a more positive alternative. Formaldehyde is also used but not allowed in organic. There are a few possible alternatives in organic, but none of them have come out strongly as a good treatment. Positive material that should be re-listed again and, in the future, we should think about annotations for monitoring soil zinc levels.
Motion to remove zinc sulfate from the National List Motion by: Brian Caldwell; Seconded by: Kim Huseman. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to remove from the National List fails.
4:13 PM ET: Materials Subcommittee (MS)
2021 Research Priorities Proposal
Wood Turner: I’ve really enjoyed this year getting into the role of chair of this subcommittee. I inherited it out of the blue when Dave Mortesen stepped down. I appreciate all of your patience as I’ve stumbled through this at times. As we’ve had presentations from NIFA about how they use Research Priorities for organic and advancing research and think bigger about the positive impacts that organic does and can have on a lot of large localized and global challenges that we are facing in society. I have enjoyed thinking about that more broadly. I’m reminded of the role this document plays in advancing organic issues. I’ve enjoyed the conversation today where we looked at some of these issues as part of our Work Agenda. We vote on these every year, but a lot of these topics are ongoing topics. We need to evaluate these topics and continue to weigh in and see research on these topics. I do think that in many ways the feedback on some of these topics is simply not there. It would be great to have a clearer way or process on how or where the research priorities are getting addressed in advance. We did keep a question section in the document because there are a number of topics that the community as a whole is very split on in some ways. A lot of the questions are ones that at various ways people in the community have shown a lot of interest in these topics, but no interest. I think these are things that need more vetting. I want them to be front and center to our subcommittee work moving forward. We are going to take all of your comments in the questions section and move them into active discussion. We are going to look for consensus on moving them forward, and what the implications are about not having consensus. I could argue both ways on whether or not consensus is necessary to keep these as research priorities. I am not presented edits to the document as it was shared with the community, but I do take all of your comments to heart. Summary of some of the comments we received. One of the topics that came up often in comments was that somehow research in copper-based materials was excluded. That is not the case – topic 5 under the Crops Section. I wanted to make sure that you all are aware that it’s in there. We got a lot of support across the community – certifiers, farmers, retailers, organizations – strong support for these priorities in general. Tends to be a lot of agreement. Really eager to figure out if we are getting proper feedback to ensure we are making progress on some of these things. A theme that kept coming in some of the priorities is the need to include deeper research on equity and inclusion. I think the impact on water quality and water quality issues related to organic came up quite a bit. Other comments ranging from nano technology, celery powder, heavy metals – a range of issues that kept coming up over and over again. A couple of commenters really got into great detail on the question section and really wanted to make sure we had some meat to sink our teeth into. I’m excited on how the subcommittee will get involved in that review moving forward. Positive comments from the community as a whole for those who took time to comment. Any questions?
Jerry D’Amore: Under the broad category we are responsible for continuous improvement; don’t know here we would start without research priorities.
Carolyn Dimitri: Comment on how research funds are disseminated: if we have a list we need to link to Universities and [encourage them to] submit grant proposals. One of the weakest links in a lot of proposals is linking to the farmers who want this work to be done. Need to link farmers to researchers to the USDA. That could make the feedback loop more effective.
Amy Bruch: There is importance here; reconcile the priorities with the actual activities to give more meaning to our subcommittees. Some investigation on the process would be really important.
Asa Bradman: Wanted to comment on 3 things. One, wanted to call out organic center recommendation on contamination, re: dicamba drift comments. These pesticides move into other people’s fields. All agriculture has some residue of pesticides in general homes. We need to find good data on pesticide drift. Was told other states have resources, but haven’t found nationwide data on drift events. There should be more support for food science, and organic in that context (came up in discussion on carrageenan). There are some ideas on what support can be done on food science departments that is consistent with organic principles in OFPA. Wanted to speak about research priorities on chlorine compounds and comments from OPWC—you guys do fantastic work, appreciated your comments. The chlorine compounds are toxic but all sanitizers have issues (example: vinegar is bad to inhale). Anecdotal information is used to plan future research. For example, I’ve reviewed studies where chlorine materials were used in seafood plants, and people have damaged their lungs. To me, that underscores the importance of occupational studies so that we understand exposure in occupational environments. I know that the comment that our focus on chlorine and occupational environments are not necessarily organic specific, but we shouldn’t let that hold us back. I’m shocked by the lack of research on exposure. We do have guidelines. But I hear many reports of illness and impacts. With my new region with our huge poultry processing facilities and students in my classes who have worked in them, they complain bitterly about chlorine impacts when they are working on the lines. These facilities produce both conventional and organic products. Really appreciate the pictures from OPWC, and I think they underscore our concerns. I was particularly interested in the occupational environments for the kind of large-scale meat processing and the picture below that where we look at meat handling facilities – gloves, rubber suits and boots, but no respiratory gear. Maybe those exposures are acceptable, but still we know very little about what the exposures are in those environments. Those pictures underscore the need, especially on the occupational front, of chlorine sanitizers. And maybe in other areas. Salad washing and packing is another intriguing picture to me. Those lettuce leaves are getting washed often in bleach or other solutions, and I think it is important for people to realize when they are buying food like that, it is a processed product. Not like buying from a farmers’ market. I do understand the need for these and the need to comply with FISMA. OEFFA also had excellent comments around this, as have many others.
Wood Turner: I do appreciate your calling out those other organizations by name. So many folks to mention here. I did have in my notes to mention about chemical exposure to workers and I overlooked it. Thank you.
Brian Caldwell: I am always in awe of Asa’s knowledge and appreciate all of that wisdom. We get TRs for our specific materials and that sort of thing, which is almost like a literature review, and I think that for some of these questions perhaps we could get some help from the Program. Getting some specific literature reviews in considerable depth and detail on some of these research projects so that we would know where the current knowledge is at on these things. Maybe 1-2 per year. If we could get some of those, it might really inform us. There might be more that has already been done than we realize on some of these topics. This may be passing the buck a bit to the NOP or USDA, but if there was a specific section of some of the grant programs that was targeted at answering some of these questions, that would ensure it got done. Some of these things have been on this list for a long time. I remember talking about parasiticides in livestock in 1995 when we wrote the NOFA-NY Livestock Standards.
Steve Ela: Great idea. Especially on the literature reviews. Can certainly inform our discussion on that. Great point.
Sue Baird: A general comments on should the following items be considered – research into the economics of organic livestock. I do not think it is the NOSB’s job to look into the economics of organic. These challenges are not just organic. Any local, rural areas are having issues with access to meat processes mainly due to the large CAFO people. Discrepancy in price – we are getting less than $2/lb for beef, and if you go to the local grocery store, they are getting $12/lb for beef. I do not think that is apropos for our research.
Rick Greenwood: Sanitizers and chlorine in particular – my perspective is from organic, but I was in charge of disease control for Orange County, CA, population of a couple 1,000 people. I’ve seen the downside of issues with food borne illnesses. We need that level of terminal disinfection to protect the population. We have seen a number of growers go out of business when there have been outbreaks and deaths. I know that Asa looks at this from occupational exposure, but this can be controlled at the site. That is one way to do it and maybe we need to look at better ways to protect employees from occupational exposure. I’m sure many of you remember lots of articles about how organic was more dangerous to eat because it was natural and had the potential for getting infected. We need a very thorough review of all of this and we do not want to destroy some of these safeguards.
Kyla Smith: Wanted to double down on the lack of priorities coming out of the Handling Subcommittee. There was a comment in the written comments about more broadly applying the commercial availability clause and search to items on 605(a). There are already some substances that are annotated in that way and some that come up in wanting to push in that direction. I think that would be hard without more information on the possibility of the availability of those items. This often comes up at sunset review when we cannot annotate anyway. Perhaps we could move in that direction if we took a closer look.
Nate Powell-Palm: Regarding our role in looking at economics of livestock production. In our material considerations, we do have a good impact through looking at the materials. When we look at material that are maybe related to LS, thinking about and using this question as a lens through which to evaluate those questions could be impactful.
Motion to act on the motion to accept research priorities. Motion made by Wood Turner; seconded by Steve Ela. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0.
Motion to accept research priorities as presented passes.
Excluded Methods Determinations – Discussion Document
Mindee Jeffery: This is a humbling subject. Appreciate stakeholders taking the time to illuminate the background in these discussions. Written comment reflections: backgrounded the discussion and sought Board to make recommendations on remaining TBD list. Ask that 2016 recommendation be adopted by NOP. The 11 methods that have been determined to be excluded and 4 not excluded and the criteria to determine exclusion be clarified in guidance document. Appreciate creative suggestion that including evaluation question in TRs about how and where genetic modification is occurring would be helpful. The TR would be helpful for determining where excluded methods are showing up in supply chains. Outlines questions to stakeholders:
- Should the NOSB prioritize developing additional criteria for excluded methods determinations before continuing to work on the remaining TBD list techniques?
Mindee Jeffrey: Development of additional criteria would impede progress; the list as it stands works. Former NOSB member noted that it may cause us to have to go back and address methods already decided on. No need – move forward to making determinations on rest of TBD list.
Brian Caldwell: Thank you for the work. There were some comments that the wording of the first criterion, in particular that genome is an indivisible entity: a lot of ppl objected to that and I do too. Other wording would be a lot better; when I read that it tripped me up.
Mindee Jeffrey: Process-wise, moving through TBD terms and having a package for that request would allow us to update that language.
2. Is Policy Memo 13-1 complete and applied consistently in organic systems, i.e., do cell fusion and protoplast fusion need to remain on the TBD list or can they be moved to the excluded method section with the notes that allowance is made for these techniques when employed within taxonomic plant families?
Mindee Jeffrey: Strong support, nearly unanimous for policy memo from stakeholders. The list should remain aligned with this document. At the time this came out the NOSB was just starting to work on EM, that’s the context for the policy memo. Certifiers and material review orgs seem to be functioning well in the world clarified by the policy memo. Agreement that the policy memo is effective for material review, enforcement, etc.
3. As the NOSB makes excluded methods determinations on the remaining TBD list techniques, should this organic system include allowance for historical use and a time frame for phasing out excluded uses?
Mindee Jeffery: Consideration of historical allowance and phase out and how it would affect organic systems is really important. Notes that looking forward expect to propose that cell and protoplast fusion be closed subjects and we can move to tables with some clarity. IFOAM position is that these techs are not ideal for organic but they are so prevalent and used historically for so long; ideologically there is discomfort, it’s a practical compromise [to keep tech limited to cell lines].
Brian Caldwell: Expediency reasoning in policy memo I wasn’t comfortable with, but agree with Mindee this is best way forward.
Kyla Smith: Thank you for this comprehensive work. Glad to see so much alignment on Qs from stakeholder—validating. Thanks for heads up on Moving some items from the TBD list—what do we need to do/what information do we need to get that done?
Mindee Jeffrey: Important to look at the issues concurrent with org seed requirements. Stakeholders giving same feedback. Interested to work between materials and crops. Most helpful to read IFOAM & Codex (?) Papers on plant breeding techniques. We are going to have to rely on stakeholders because these topics are difficult to track and require expertise. Looking at these in as narrow scope as we can so we can move forward with clarity is needed. Hoping for a plant breeder for new NOSb nominations!
Kyla Smith: Has there been a technical panel on this topic?
Mindee Jeffery: There has been some engaging with plant breeders on this subject.
Wood Turner: Keeping GMOs out of organic is fundamental. Want to make sure that point is clear and the level of expertise required—appreciate it.
Mindee Jeffrey: Try to find practical paths forward on this work. The understanding of the level of work out there making sure org systems are protected is low. What are the creative solutions—I don’t know. Seeing inputs in organic supply chains in surprising places (GMO mosquitoes in California?). How will we protect organic system from these issues? We need advocates and partnerships that can help with genetic transgression; important for organic marketplace development (and integrity).
Sue Baird: [Echoes admiration.] The prohibition against GMOs in organic is fundamental (experts speak to damage to children).
Steve Ela: I would echo Wood’s words to Mindee. So glad you took this topic on. So hard. This is a topic that makes my head spin but I know is incredibly important and glad you have the passion and understanding to do it. Thanks for taking the dive. I agree with your comments that this is going to permeate our society and for organic to stay ahead or even catch up is going to be a huge challenge. There is only one way to take it on, and that’s to start on it. Steve Ela closes the meeting for the day. The NOSb meeting will resume tomorrow, Wednesday October 20, 2021 at 12pm ET.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021: NOSB Meeting
12 PM ET: Call to Order, Crops Subcommittee, Petitioned Materials
Chitosan for plant disease control
Petitioned for the use in organic crops production for addition to the National List at 205.601(j)(4) for plant disease control.
Rick Greenwood: We’ve done a tremendous amount of work on the sunset reviews. Turns out, I have the proposal for chitosan for plant disease control. Petitioned for organic crop production under 205.601(j)(4) for plant disease control. It is an interesting compound. Approved before for adhesive adjuvant. Made from chitin from crab shell and prawn waste; antimicrobial activity and plant growth enhancer and defense booster. Positive things going for it. In going through written comments, tremendous support to be added to NL. People say another tool in the toolbox. Where we had issues as a subcommittee is: do we want to add another synthetic to the National List (NL)? There are alternatives. We split on this as a subcommittee. We had four vote yes to add and 4 say we don’t need it. Point to this as showing subcommittees have robust debate. Nothing is a given. People can speak mind. Collegial atmosphere. It is not toxic but other items on NL do the same thing already.
Steve Ela: I struggle for two reasons. I agree with comments – good to have another tool in toolbox. A little unclear as to efficacy. We have tools I will never use. They are not shown to be effective. I am not completely convinced I would use it even if available. I don’t really see that happening re: removing sulfur, which some have suggested could happen. I am conflicted about adding it to the NL.
Wood Turner: heartened to see public comments that it could be interesting and worth considering. On the other hand, I lean toward not approving the petition. I am concerned about hte black box that is the production process. It is a proprietary production process. Heartened but not motivated.
Logan Petrey: For plant disease, it is supposed to trigger microbes that will eat chitosan; membranes of fungi and insects. That is the mechanism of action. It stimulates the microbiology.
Rick Greenwood: There is a huge amount of literature about things that stimulate plants to protect themselves. But not sure how important that is in a functional sense. That wasn’t completely clear to me re: what the mechanism is.
Logan Petrey: Chitosan can trigger plant mechanisms to protect against things. It is a holistic approach as far as pest control.
Brian Caldwell: I second what Logan just said. I am in a consumer/public interest seat but I am an apple/pear/chestnut grower. Benign material derived from large store of natural materials. To me, this is the kind of synthetic we should allow, direction we want to go in.
Amy Bruch: Thank you Steve and Rick. There was a written comment saying petitioned use was as a production aid. There is a conflicting statement on this. I definitely can see some of the challenges of not having strict definitions for use rate, crop specific recommendations. I support tools in the toolbox, but we need more clarity with this tool.
Rick Greenwood: confusing aspect – like that it comes out of a waste stream. We are talking about global warming. It takes energy and toxic chemicals to produce it. Not sure manufacturing itself will have bigger carbon footprint along the way.
Asa Bradman: I’m in the middle and feel conflicted. In the written comments, concerns that sulfur would somehow be eliminated. Sulfur has some hazards. It is not benign. Esp. Occupational and farmworker illness, even community illness related to sulfur. If it can reduce sulfur use, that is a benefit. I’m on the fence as well.
Sue Baird: As you know, I’m not on the crops committee and haven’t been part of long discussions. I am going by public comment. I grow a lot of tomatoes. We use a copper product for early and late blight. I hate it. But you need it in damp weather. If it could replace some of that, it would be incredible. I am confused by what Kim [sic] said – it is already listed as a plant disease product.
Logan Petrey: So, we use like a crab powder that has the same principles as the chitosan. There is chitin in crab shells to get that microbial production going on that will inherently feed on or fight against fungi diseases. Person I buy it from uses it on strawberries. He has shown me the results. It is 6x more populated with bacteria species when treated with chitosan products. He has pulled out copper from spray program in South Florida with strawberries! The use in keeping it on can reduce sulfur and copper use. We have reduced use here too by having it in our tank mix.
Rick Greenwood: if you already have something available, do we need another product?
Logan Petrey: I hate to speculate. We do hand weed and we’ve had multiple instances where workers have swelled. Allergen to the shell fish? It has happened on more than one occasion. Not sure if this new product would have that.
Brian Caldwell: I have more questions for Logan. I am intrigued by what you are saying. Is that a spray product? Locally available in your spot? I’ve never heard of it. How do you use it? Would this be a substitute for the chitosan product we are reviewing setting aside the possible allergic reaction.
Logan Petrey: It comes in a fine powder. You can have flaking added to the soil. Or powder to tank mix itself. Not sure if this is a regional thing. Northeastern area could produce it and produce better chitosan because they have thicker shells. I can’t answer your question if there is enough product already.
Steve Ela: In tree fruit world, there are a number of “biostimulators” on the market, but the research in inconclusive. In actual orchard situations, may not be worth your money. I have skepticism about those claims. Theoretically makes sense but from data, it hasn’t made as much sense. Does anyone have data showing greater resistance to disease or insects.
Brian Caldwell: Quite a few growers use regalia, extract from Japanese knotweed and they think it helps stimulate plant defenses. I thought there was research showing that it does in tank mixes with other materials.
Steve Ela: Curious about data it’s so easy to have folks use for a good reason without good results. So many products are snake oil. But concept of doing it makes sense.
Nate Powell-Palm: I think in our cropping systems in Montana, and with grain production systems, there is always a new biological out there with a loose relationship to actual efficacy. Logan – what is bar that product has to have re: efficacy. There is not a call for this as a critically needed product, or that it is an effective product. We need a higher bar beyond it being benign.
Logan Petrey: If we spray…well it is dependent on whether climate is conclusive. It is hard to do. I have done in conventional setting with fungicides when I was an agronomist. But harder in holistic organic system. Universities try to do those trials for us. Rule of thumb – we apply, until it proves wrong. Not a good answer for you. Evaluation of fungicide efficacy in organic is complicated.
Nate Powell-Palm: What does salesperson have to show you to get that first spray?
Logan Petrey: Need to know what they presume the mechanism is. If theoretically, it makes sense, I will attempt it. I know how I need to apply it, certain products need humidity, or arid conditions. As long as I can understand the product, then I give it a shot.
Steve Ela: I am asking the question, but I am not trying to derail it. It is my own curiosity.
Amy Bruch: Thank you Logan. In farming in general, need repeatability. That is tough to get. Efficacy trials are challenging. There isn’t always a magic bullet. Physical, chemical, and biological components of soils. If you don’t have physical and chemical right, introducing these controls may not work.
Mindee Jeffery: Did I hear Logan and Brian say there are natural allowed substances that perform similarly? We are considering a synthetic version?
Logan Petrey: There is a natural product with chitin in it. Not sure about the efficacy.
Mindee Jeffrey: For clarity, we are motioning for 601(I) that is a minor typo and we are clear what we are doing?
Steve Ela: I wouldn’t get hung up on exact lettering. It comes back to intent and what program decides re: where it is on the list. That should not be a reason not to pass the proposal.
Brian Caldwell: I was completely unaware of material Logan talked about. I don’t know if it widely available.
Rick Greenwood: Do we do classification motion vote first?
Steve Ela: Yes.
Classification Motion: Motion to classify chitosan as synthetic Motion by: Rick Greenwood; Seconded by: Brian Caldwell. Yes: 14 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion Passes.
National List Motion: Motion to add chitosan to the National List at 205.601(j)(4) for plant disease control Motion by: Rick Greenwood; Seconded by: Steve Ela. Yes: 7 – Asa, Brian, Kim, Logan, Kyla, Sue, SteveNo: 7 – Amy, Jerry, Carolyn, Rick, Mindee, Nate, Wood Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion fails.
Cow manure derived from biochar (CBDM)
A petitioner has requested an annotation to the listing at § 205.602(a) “Ash from manure burning” that would indicate that ash from manure burning does not include biochar derived from pyrolysis of cow manure. The petitioner contends that cow manure derived biochar, or CMDB, not only provides a solution to nutrient leaching and other adverse impacts to raw manure handling in large scale dairy operations but also has other benefits for organic crops that may exceed those of plant-based biochar.
Wood Turner: We have a proposal to change the annotation for ash for manure burning as part of the production of biochar from paralysis of cow manure. We refer to it as CMDB. I am interested only because of my interest in thinking more broadly about this material and the nuances about production. Might create a climate solution for us. We’ve been talking about climate change at every step of the process in today’s meeting. I know the history on it. Ash from manure burning has long been explicitly prohibited since 1995. There was another effort in 2017 by the Board to articulate that ash from manure burning is incompatible with manure production. What I wanted to understand more fully is whether we truly are considering most recently pyrolysis, which a process that uses no oxygen – heat is applied to a material and it breaks down into biochar product that can be used in a stable form to support soil health and sequester carbon in the soil. So, what is before us today to consider is whether or not we consider burning and pyrolysis one and the same. We are talking about roasting of the material and not burning of a material. A material can stabilize carbon for a long period of time. There has been a lot of concern about fuel sources that go into producing biochar may mean impact on climate change, not solution. Ultimately, we are talking about a net negative. One reason – we are talking about taking a material like manure that will decompose with some speed and we can slow that decomposition. Stabilize in large volumes. I share the concern that organic should be a solution and means by which large CAFOs can neutralize their impact. I share those concerns. It might be beyond the scope of this question from my perspective. A lot of things we’ve learned about the material – less dense soil structure, water retention, root growth, microbial health/growth; I’m interested in CAFO question about whether material can hold and sequester materials we are concerned about; if it can sequester materials of concern coming off livestock operations – I.e. pesticides, pharmaceuticals, We got a fair amount of feedback from the community on this. There was full-throated support for the material and benefits for crop production, but also opposition. The point I made about this distinction between burning and pyrolysis was on minds of NOC and Beyond Pesticides. Other orgs questioned if carbon balance would give net carbon benefit. OPWC had interesting comments and urged us to consider an annotation related to temperature at which biochar is produced. Higher temps – can contain contaminant. My understanding is that CMDB is produced at lower temperatures. Lower temp product here. Higher temp issue – OPWC was flagging – may not be a relevant point. I haven’t suggested it here as a continued work for the subcommittee because I think the material is typically produced at lower temps.
Steve Ela: Can be comments or questions now.
Carolyn Dimitri: Thank you Wood for that elaborate discussion. The question I have, does anyone know the difference between this process and anerobic digestion for energy generation?
Steve Ela: I do not have an answer.
Brian Caldwell: Pyrolysis occurs at higher temperatures than anerobic digestion. AD is biological process but pyrolysis is a physical process at high temperatures. Asa may talk more about it. We need to be clear here that we are not making a decision about biochar and pyrolysis in general but biochar derived from cow manure, specifically. I am all for biochar. It is a climate friendly practice, but manure is an important source of nutrients, including nitrogen. I am concerned nitrogen is lost and I am leaning against this.
Asa Bradman: I had a couple of comments. I can’t speak directly to the question re: anerobic versus pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is about purifying the carbon and break down carbon and derive nutrients and energy from that. Very different. My concern as a method to recycle CAFO waste. Organic is recycling nutrients from conventional ag. Creates another market for cow manure from large production facilities. That is a red flag. Concerned about PAH. Someone representing this petition and talk about we can crack the PAHs and recondense it and that is a potential benefit. What is proposed there is a hazardous waste treatment approach. Some of these materials used are carcinogens. Not produced at lower temperatures, but nothing would prevent them from being made at higher temps. Additional treatment may require toxics and I am leaning against this material.
Sue Baird: I am torn. I have heard a lot of good presentations on the benefits of biochar. Dr. Bob Rose with ARS and is now a professor at U. of Missouri. Not supposed to add nitrogen in soil but carbon house per se. There has been a lot of research on benefits of biochar. Enhances ability of crop to produce and increases soil fertility. It is very tempting to vote yes. The concerns about PAHs are truly relevant. But pragmatically we are not going to reduce CAFOs. They are here.
Nate Powell-Palm: I appreciate what Sue just said. Growing consensus that biochar is an important tool. We can make it out of other materials. We do not need to make it out of manure. Facilitating divorce between cropping and livestock is a move away from intent of OFPA. I think there is enough here to say we should encourage biochar from other materials and skip manure.
Kyla Smith: clarifying question around specificity around pyrolysis of cow manure. That was how it was petitioned? Versus pyrolysis of other types of manures from other species?
Wood Turner: Correct.
Steve Ela: I agree with Asa. We have struggled on CAFO uses of manures. I agree that organic should not be the disposal system. But I am sure I have used chicken pellets from CAFOs on my own farm. I’ve moved away from them, but there is not restriction on it. I don’t want us to be inconsistent.
Wood Turner: I am interested in comments about manure. What I am most interested is that it is another means to stabilize the impacts of manure. If I thought every once of manure produced in this country on large livestock operations was used to support crop production, I’d be thrilled. But it’s not. We need to find a means of stabilizing. I’m motivated and agree manure has value but there is a lot of manure out there.
Amy Bruch: Good point Wood. Manure is important. Cattle manure – it is pretty stabilized because of form nitrogen is in. Not like chicken litter. Do you know the nutritional content of the final product?
Wood Turner: Don’t know that answer.
Classification Motion: Motion to classify cow manure derived biochar (CMDB) as nonsynthetic Motion by: Wood Turner; Seconded by: Rick Greenwood. Yes: 13 No: 1 (Steve) Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion passes. National List Motion: Motion to annotate the listing of ash from manure burning at § 205.602(a) to read “Ash from manure burning – unless derived as part of the production of biochar from pyrolysis of cow manure.” Motion by: Wood Turner; Seconded by: Steve Ela. Yes: 4 – Jerry, Logan, Wood, Sue; No: 3 – Brian, Carolyn, Rick, Kim, Mindee, Asa, Nate, Kyla, Amy, Steve Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion fails.
Kasugamycin for plant disease control
Petitioned for addition to the National List at 205.601(j)(4) for plant disease control. Rick Greenwood: Kasugamycin is an antibiotic that inhibits protein synthesis. Can control fire blight on apples and pears. Petitioned to add to the NL. Problem is, #1, the whole organic movement really doesn’t want antibiotics in our food chain. That was very clear from the written comments. Vast majority say please don’t add an antibiotic. The issue is that eventually, when it gets into the soil, it changes the soil flora and fauna by developing resistance which has been shown in real life situations. Some of the field resistance where it was used in Japan for years. When it is used in the field and sprayed, a lot of it ends up off of the leaves in trees and down in the soil. Harold mentioned they used micro sprayers, but even if very regulated it can end up in soils and cause resistance. Even with EPA use and where used in conventional ag you need a resistance plan. When we discussed it in the subcommittee it seemed clear that our organic stakeholders do not want an antibiotic added. Not compatible with the OFPA criteria. Steve can pine on this since he is an apple and pear grower. There are methods using conventional ag and other tools that can help with fire blight. It is not as efficient because there are timing issues. But it is one of those areas where we talk about it a lot – another tool in the toolbox. We say that a lot. When we talk about a new work agenda item, should look at that. Catchphrase. I’m a farmer and would love to have other things, but we have to be careful with that statement. I’d like to open it up for discussion.
Steve Ela: Fire blight is a nemesis that has been with us for a very long time. I remember carrying a can of alcohol to sterilize sheers as a kid. Career breaker. We have a more integrated approach to fill the niche and reducing the bacteria in the orchard using limed sulfur and copper, which organic community and the Board have pushed against. I have a block where we’ve lost 30% of the trees to fire blight. I would love to have it but the Board has spoken about the use of antibiotics. I hate to see system-disruptive materials. I will vote not, but with angst because I’m sure I would use it. Having another tool is not a reason to add to the NL. So hard to get off the list once we add it so we should be judicious in what we add. I’ll probably vote no, but it’s a material I could use. The ecological, ecosystem approach makes me vote no even though it would be useful.
Nate Powell-Palm: I really appreciate how Rick has framed this in looking at stakeholders. In a way, organics has undersold the lack of antibiotics. When we look at disruption of soil microbiome and how we keep antibiotics useful – moving them away from ag use is a strong aspect of the system. Rick’s presentation plays into that, and I’m excited to speak with a strong voice on this.
Rick Greenwood: For decades, people have talked about overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, and I think this is just another step in trying to prevent this. I’m pleased that we have an opportunity to review this and come up with our comments.
Classification Motion: Motion to classify kasugamycin as synthetic Motion by: Rick Greenwood; Seconded by: Steve Ela. Yes: 14 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion passes. National List Motion: Motion to add kasugamycin to the National List at §205.601(j)(4) for plant disease control Motion by: Rick Greenwood; Seconded by: Amy Bruch. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion fails.
Stabilized Hydronium used as a processing aid in organic crop production
Petitioned for addition to the National List at 205.602(j)(7) as an organic processing aid. Rick Greenwood: Being processed for a processing aid for a pH adjustment below 5.0 to reduce malodorous properties of manures. Looked at this and we just did not find a need for this. It looks like a compound looking for a product and we really did not see any use for it. It does not really fit into the OFPA criteria for improving soil health. The company had also put it into the EPA as a biocide at one point, and that part had never been approved. Seems to be incompatible with a system of sustainable ag. The only comments were to not approve it for addition to the NL. Did not find anyone looking for something like this.
Nate Powell-Palm: We should remember that manure is a pretty honest material in that when it stinks, something is going wrong. When we look at controlling for that, we are not really acknowledging that having the right balance of nutrients to land application is important. When we talk about reducing malodorous properties, we are missing the chance to acknowledge that good balanced farms smell good.
Kyla Smith: When reading the comments, it seemed there was a lot of confusion about what was actually being petitioned – definitions, what compounds we are talking about – and those are really important for us. That was concerning to me.
Steve Ela: Good comment. If you look at the actual petition, it is not very complete. Trying to pull a proposal out of it, it was not easy.
Rick Greenwood: Of the ones that I’ve done, it was very hard to come up with a document.
Steve Ela: Your comments are right, Kyla. Very hard to deal with a petition that does not give us things that we need to have.
Logan Petrey: Maybe we get used to the smells on the farm. We use a lot of chicken litter, and I don’t know how honest it is and such, but if you jump in the back of a chicken litter truck, you’re not going to be welcome around town. We do use a lot of chicken litter, and we do turn it to try to get it heat treated to get weed seeds killed. Neighbors do get a little disgruntled. That’s part of being around an organic farm – it’s smelly.
Sue Baird: I agree, Logan. Litter smells. But I will say that I have to back up Nate. I’ve done a lot of inspections on chicken houses and when there is enough outdoor access and they have their stocking levels right, you aren’t overwhelmed with ammonia.
Logan Petrey: I have heard that when we heat the chicken litter that it smells like chocolate. Sue Baird: Agrees re: smell.
Amy Bruch: Agree with Nate. Our experiences in FL, I think I can still smell it, versus some of the practices we have around here.
Sue Baird: They always told me it smelled like money.
Steve Ela: That I’ve heard.
Carolyn Dimitri: Love the farmer humor.
Rick Greenwood: I’ve used chicken litter in a more urban setting, and I’m not the most popular.
Classification Motion: Motion to classify hydronium as synthetic Motion by: Rick Greenwood; Seconded by: Amy Bruch. Yes: 14 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Absent: Recuse: 0. Motion passes. National List Motion: Motion to add hydronium to the National List at 205.601(j)(7) as an organic processing aid Motion by: Rick Greenwood; Seconded by: Steve Ela. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion fails.
Petition requesting the addition of synthetic carbon dioxide at §205.601 Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production as (a) algicide, disinfectants, and sanitizer, including irrigation system cleaning systems and (j) As plant or soil amendments. Logan Petrey: Petition is for both algicide and plant/soil amendment. In the subcommittee discussions, going over human health is very low. Immediate concern is for climate change purposes. Petitioned mentioned recycled carbon dioxide – with a request that it is CD from a recycled byproduct. Trying to eliminate some going into the atmosphere and keep that from building up. It is a synthetic – the process that we are trying to capture here. The non-synthetic come from fermentation, and due to the logistics of being able to apply it, we are not able to do that with the non-synthetic sources. As far as algicide and pH reducer in irrigation systems, we did see farmers that are using this – mostly for drip lines – needing it to clean out the emiters and needing to get the algae and carbon buildups and trying to get those things cleaned. As far as other alternatives, we have sulfurs. There have been comments from stakeholders saying that this would be an easier, safer method of use to address pH in water. As far as the motion I have listed, I do not have it broken down to the two. Before we make the motion to send this to subcommittee
Wood Turner: Do you have thoughts about whether a material like this – if available and widely used – could have benefits in helping to use chlorine and other sanitizers in crop production?
Logan Petrey: I would say that it would. If they were going the algicide part, it would.
Asa Bradman: I have a question about this listing – I think I was absent in subcommittee discussion. I’m concerned that we are voting with one vote on two issues here – one as the disinfectant for irrigation systems, and the other is as a plant amendment for GH production. Shouldn’t we be voting on these separately?
Logan Petrey: That, too. This needs to go back to be separated. Requested in the comments to separate that into two different motions. In subcommittee we will do that.
Steve Ela: I tend to agree with the shying away from blanket analyses and without the annotations, this is too broad. I’m going to suggest that we send this back to subcommittee to get the annotations on it.
Motion by Mindee Jeffrey to send the proposal back to subcommittee; Nate Powell-Palm seconds the motion. 14 Yes; Motion passes.
NOP Request to Review Lithothamnion Classification. Brian Caldwell: The NOP requested that NOSB clarify the classification of lithothamnion. Background: species are a type of red algae where part of its growth calcifies and turns into balls of high-calcium material that is dead. These are shed from plant. Where harvested these tend to be swept by currents and collect in areas away from where algae is growing; dredged from ocean floor to harvest them. Complicated—decision in SC was to classify lithothamnion as non-ag substance, and that it was not a wild crop eligible to be cert org because of that. Went through decision tree to come to this decision; does not come from a plant rooted in a certain place. Pretty clear on those decisions but happy to have questions.
Asa Bradman: Comment—call out comments from Beyond Pesticides and NOC on this material and impacts on the environment. “Ew factor” concerning dredging and harvesting. In this review answered the question we were specifically asked to address, but this concern also came up. Other comments argue impacts are minimal. But we are extracting nutrients form one environ and putting it in organic ag environment.
Brian Caldwell: I agree. Comments were interesting. None disagreed w/ our classifications, and a couple producers of lithothamnion calcium products said that the harvest is non-destructive and harvested with “gentle vacuuming”… but that seemed to be beyond the scope of the questions we were asked to answer. In the future we should explore whether this would be allowed at all in organic product. Think that it would need more digging to sus out all aspects of harvest, and other aspects of this material.
Sue Baird: Digging or dredging?
Brian Caldwell: Dredging or “gentle vacuuming”?
Steve Ela: Saw a couple pushback from a couple people/groups on environmental effects. I agree with decision-tree findings and am in favor of the motion.
Nate Powell-Palm: Hoping to lithothamnion being dead when harvested. Comments from Garth Kahl concerning tree-bark harvested that is also “dead,” overall point is good but don’t want a procedural issue that wild crop cannot be considered a wild crop just because it isn’t rooted.
Brian Caldwell: Yes, they are coming to the same conclusion through a better means by pointing to not being harvested from plant rooted in specific place. That finer reasoning probably should have been in the discussion. But came to same conclusion, so I don’t know if we need to go back.
Steve Ela: I thought it came to a different conclusion.
Brian Caldwell: They said it was not a wild crop; said that what I wrote in discussion was not correct bc they had at least one example of a dead part of plant that was also part of a crop.
Nate Powell-Palm: The comment noted that it would be impossible to make the: In conclusion, it would be impossible to define area where algae occurred. It’s more possible to make that distinction because it was rooted on a terrestrial plant where it couldn’t move with tides. To be wild crafted, it does not necessarily have to be rooted on a plant, but still fails the criteria because it could move with tides and not be distinguishable to how it was grown and impacted.
Brian Caldwell: Tricky to try to navigate through all of this. Product seemed to be more analogous to peat moss versus soybeans. Issue of wild cropping was clarified best via the issue of not being harvested from plant in specific place or in the same place the plant is rooted.
Steve Ela: NOSB has struggled with difference of terrestrial vs marine environments. The marine environment is much different for us to look at and that’s an important distinction.
Nate Powell-Palm: Say that this is easy-enough fix to just remove dead part rather than pass it with that inconsistency; would motion to send it back to SC and fix that bit and bring it back in spring.
Steve Ela: In the motion itself it does not refer to “dead” so you are just referring to the write-up?
Nate Powell-Palm: following the wild-crafted issue is where we should land, that you can’t determine its origin.
Kyla Smith: could the intent be made clearer in the cover sheet?
Steve Ela: Nate maybe you could touch base with Brian to address those concerns int the cover sheet.
Brian Caldwell: Question: whether it sets bad precedent to have the actual wording of the discussion not reflect the final place we landed. Not sure how important that is.
Carolyn Dimitri: That’s okay, because you do have that it’s not fixed to defined location. You have that language in there.
Steve Ela: Agree. It does not inherently change the write-up of the proposal, it just clarifies it.
Kyla Smith: Agrees.
Rick Greenwood: We can change the write-up for the motion to be very specific.
Motion to classify lithothamnion as a nonagricultural substance Motion: Brian Caldwell; Seconded by: Amy Bruch. Yes: 14 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion passes. Motion that lithothamnion does not meet wild crop criteria and is not eligible to be certified to the wild crop standard.Motion: Brian Caldwell; Seconded by: Steve Ela. Yes: 14 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion passes.
1:45 PM ET: Lunch Break (to return in one hour)
2:45 PM ET: Crops Subcommittee, Petitions (cont.)
Biodegradable Biobased Mulch Film
The CS proposes the following annotation change for biodegradable biobased mulch film:
- 205.601: Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production. Biodegradable biobased mulch film as defined in §205.2. Must be produced without organisms or feedstock derived from excluded methods.
- Meets the compostability specifications of one of the following standards: ASTM D6400, ASTM D6868, EN 13432, EN 14995, or ISO 17088 (all incorporated by reference; see § 205.3);
- Demonstrates at least 90% biodegradation absolute or relative to microcrystalline cellulose in less than two years, in soil, according to one of the following test methods: ISO 17556 or ASTM D5988 (both incorporated by reference; see § 205.3); and
- Must be at least 80% biobased with content determined using ASTM D6866 (incorporated by reference; see § 205.3).
Asa Bradman: As everyone knows, Biodegradable Biobased Mulch Film (BBM) has been on the NL for a long time. There was a limitation to make it 100% biobased. The issue is that there are no products out there that are 100% biobased – derived from plant materials as the primary carbon. Apparently, the best out there is 60%, and it sounds like it is possible to increase that. There is a love affair with plastic in the organic sector. Mulch films are used extensively. Primary films used are the polyethylene films (PE). I would like to see PE films taken off the NL, and that could put a lot of people out of business. PE films are widely used in the organic sector. I see biodegradable mulch as an alternative to that. Virtually all PE films used with soil contact are not recycled and [end up in a] landfill. There is some talk about being able to make fuels out of it, but vast majority are thrown away. Significant portion of this gets left in the environment and on fields – studies have estimated that 5-10% of PE could be left in the feild. Some of those studies may be from China, where it is thinner and harder to remove, but I know here in CA you see this, as well. I tend to see this issue in a comparative risk assessment format. People have commented on this and many folks object to that line of thinking. I’ve tried to lay out all of the reasons for and against the BBM. I hope that when we are done, if we weigh the scales of justice…there are a lot of uncertainties here. In my mind alone, I’m sure that the current use of PE films do need a replacement. It is possible that if this passes, it will increase use of BBM film, but possibly not less use of PE, although I’m hopeful. These films are degradable, and in a lab setting they are biodegradable. That varies in the field depending on different factors. Someone has suggested that thermal time rather than regular time should be used to measure the rate of degradation. When we mention comments – Harriet mentioned concerns about this – what happens when this blows into the water? This will happen. That is a concern. At the same time, again, in my frame I see this as an alternative to the existing PE films that we know are bad for the environment in many ways. I do not want to judge what is organic and what isn’t, but the PEs have a very serious environmental impact and should be reduced. In terms of public comment, it represents the range of views that we have on the Board and that I hold inside me. There are benefits and negatives here, and depending on where one falls, it might be one way or the other. In terms of how this plays out, Supporters include VOF, OTCO, OPWC. And then many people feel that this is not ready for prime time – that the original intent was 100% and we shouldn’t compromise that. I came up with and proposed 80% because that is what we are requiring for paper pots, which leaves open the door for a material that is actually a plastic fiber. When we think of scale, this is much different. Harriet mentioned that we are talking about 1000s of acres. In CA, we have somewhere around 2 million organic acres. And that scale of use makes this a different consideration compared to the paper pots. But for me there is a comparative risk compared to the PE films, which are, in my mind, a method of containerized growing – especially in strawberries – especially if we are using chemigation and fertigation. We might call that a hydroponic system, even though it is in the soil. I feel this is better and ensures that we have some recycling of the plastic. If we want to get into hydroponics, there should be standards that require recycle. A lot of plastics cannot be recycled – lots of drip tape. I feel this is a situation where it might be time to make a decision one way or another. We are not going to have all of the information that we want to have. We often have to make decisions without all of the information we want. We allow PE films into the environment which introduces microplastics. We do use things like mineral oil and things for organic production, and that is directly derived from refined petroleum products, although I think all of us cringe at the use of a material that has a carbon source that is potentially petroleum based. In the spring, we had continuous improvement language. We took that out this fall, but we put that into the language of the intent of the document. We would include this intent very clearly in a cover letter to the Program should we move this forward.
Sue Baird: I despise plastic mulch. I used it once in my fields. I did all of the correct procedures to remove it at the end of the season, and 15 years later I am still disking up pieces of plastic mulch. I believe this is truly a step in the right direction. I like the fact that we put a commercial availability on it. I am going to vote for it.
Kyla Smith: Question – if the annotation change passes, does it get a new sunset date, or does the old sunset date remain?
Michelle Arsenault: Once it went through rulemaking, it resets the sunset date – but I will let someone else correct me if that is wrong.
Devon Patello: I will take a look. We had a number of cases like this and I want to double check.
Kyla Smith: I thought there were a good balance of comments. Certifiers were on both sides. There was notes that this is a true compromise where no one is left happy. On one hand, there are no products available, in as far as enforcing the annotation, there is nothing to enforce against, but should products become available, it is clear. I do appreciate the commercial availability language that was added. There were some comments that said it was a meaningless listing if there are no products available, so what is the point of having it on the list. While it is aspiration, it does seem that the way industry is moving, they do seem to keep increasing the biobased percentage. In 2016, we looked at 10-20%, and now we are at 60%. Over the course of the past 5 years, we have improved, and hopefully we can get up to the 80% to make it a meaningful listing, if it goes that way. If there is not, then I do think there were some comments that asked about a timeline, or asked that once we get around to the next sunset to let it sunset off if there continues to not be a commercially available product, perhaps that’s enough time. Other point that spoke to me was the fact that there is the NL, but then there is also the practice standards where it does refer to fully biodegradable mulch, as well as where plastic is listed with the requirement to remove. Since this listing would be neither of those things, I wonder if there will also need to be a change to the practice standards that would align with this listing?
Amy Bruch: A tough on. I agree with you, Asa. On the surface, it does appear that having the BBM would be better, but I do have some deep concerns – consecutive usage and ploughing below the microbial zone and how it will decompose in that area. Concerned with how well it will decompose. A comment that mentioned that we can reduce our dependence on plastic if we approve BBM, but innovating around plastics probably doesn’t get us to the end results. There was an article in the written comments that I read that started comparing and contrasting BBM and PE films. PE films actually warm up the soil faster, and that is a use for these films, and it was saying BBM wouldn’t do that as well. Water is maintained better under PE than BBM. Are there some drawbacks versus innovating around a nonplastic solution. “A photoxicity test…found that some inhibit plant growth” – worried about leaving it there for years and years on end. I want to improve the current scenario, but concerned this isn’t getting us to where we want to be.
Asa Bradman: Agree. In my ideal world, it would reduce the use of PE, which I think would be a net benefit there. Some of the issues of soil warming and conservation of water are worth considering. When we talk about 100% biobased plastic as the current listing that is also aspiration, some of the same issues would still be there – breakdown and biodegradability. Any breakdown products were not toxic from my understanding, at least in the microbial setting. I’m not trying to convince anyone, but lay out the issues, and I think you raise important points.
Wood Turner: It is hard to follow Amy on that one. I have been pained by this piece of work. I have been struggling with it because there is this state of affairs – we are using so many plastics – we should be fundamentally aligned on getting plastics out of organic production every day of the week – and I know this proposal is not going to do that. In the way I am thinking about this, I have to be focused on forward movement. I know these materials are going to be ……….. I’m leaning toward moving it forward.
Carolyn Dimitri: Appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this. Two short comments: come out of training as economist. There is no guarantee other product is de-listed that farmers will switch from current plastic use to this product unless the other product is de-listed; will have a lot to do with relative price of these two products. Other concern is that 80-20% target is put on the list, what is the incentive for a manufacturer to go up to 100%? Or eliminate plastic altogether? I just know how biz and people respond. I don’t think passing this will move things forward. Leaning against this.
Asa Bradman: If a 100% BBM film was created it would be required to use that. But yes, there are environmental concerns with 80%
Carolyn Dimitri: I don’t think people will bother creating a 100% one if an 80% one is on the market.
Asa Bradman: hopefully there would be a market incentive.
Logan Petrey: Carolyn, potential answer to competitiveness: if something creates a 90% option, farmers might choose that, creating a competitive edge. We don’t like plastic and the farmers using it don’t either. Company that I spoke to over summer they have been working on an 80% and a 100% BBM. Organic mulches: Amy is right that organic mulches are black, and heat up the ground, you want that protection—so people can get an edge on spring market. Mulches, I imagine they cool the ground. When I speak to no-till farmers here drilling down their rye they are concerned about soil temps being high. But plastic mulches are specific in that they can’t directly swap to a mulch. The 80% has the potential to be a replacement, but relies on the farmers wanting to swap. Gives them an option to swap. Many rely on plastic mulch and plastic farming; doing anything really different they won’t switch to… unless product is very similar.
Nate Powell-Palm: In looking at idea that plowing-in 100% plastic every 5 years; want to ask Asa re: toxicity to microbiome, I understand it is disruptive not toxic to biome. Do you have more info or thoughts on what we are seeding as far as soil health for this material.
Asa Bradman: Couple things, 20% would still be digestible. Good question. The films are lightweight compared to mass of soil; tiny amount of C being added. Wouldn’t change the balance in that sense. Did calculations thinking about mineral oil—looking for mass of oil used per acre—had info that the weight of the films compared to 1/12th of the oil. Not that far off of other petroleum products [already in use]. Lots of public comment. Takeaway: probably won’t disrupt soil biology relative to impacts of tilling or something else which is a big impact. The mass of C from it is not that large.
Brian Caldwell: Pleased that so many people are chiming in. Question of whether we approve this and 80% is attained whether farmers will switch and use less PE mulch. In NE the answer is yes. Many farmers wanted to avoid PE and left the organic certification because they wanted a bio-degradable mulch. They wanted to support organic but refused to use plastic. That was a subset. My experience with this was 20 years ago, but at Extension at NY State, if the $$ of PE mulch was 3x or less the biodegradable mulch people would switch because picking up the plastic mulch is so expensive.
Steve Ela: Sunset would re-set.
Jerry D’Amore: We didn’t get an answer. Focus on the annotation itself: are there unforeseen consequences of getting this through. Messaging we are giving that would slow this down? Does community think we are on a path because I don’t think we are on a path at all. My question: if we go ahead and get this language through, have we sent a message we may not want to send? Apologize concerning ambiguity. Working our tails off that this might be an improvement; wondering if re-setting that clock and the time, have we disincentivize the community to look at bigger picture. Concern it wouldn’t do what we wanted and we might be in the same quandary. If we leave this out and we go back to something we all agree is totally unacceptable—might we send a message that getting rid of plastic altogether [instead]?
Asa Bradman: point made earlier would there be an overall increase in using plastic? And that’s not good. In my head it is a replacement for non-biodegrade PE. If we list this too there is no product out there. Back to issues of degradability: that would hold true wither its 100% bio-based or not. 100% might have all the same issues, might not be more benign. Love to see less PE going to landfills say in Monterey Co. Not trying to convince anyone.
Jerry D’Amore: We looked at paper. And deemed paper was unacceptable. Real question: are we allowing with all this work that we are ignoring that there is something entirely different out there that we should be going for?
Steve Ela: Want to ask the program whether the 100% Was what the program came up with not the NOSB.
Devon Patello: Was vague what NOSB wanted at the time, and through the rulemaking process we ended up interpreting that as a 100% bio-based requirement.
Steve Ela: Yes, thank you. In terms of NOSB precedence that might be important.
Jerry D’Amore: What we are discussing right now this is one of the 3 most important things.
Amy Bruch: No matter what our vote is plastics will be talked about for many years to come; Recently had a call from a row-crop farmers and he was staying close to this issue. Plastics being used in fruit and veg crops—there is analysis being done today to figure out how to roll out plastics for row crops. What we vote on today may be different tomorrow. I don’t see anyone doing that yet with PE yet, but it’s in the conversation and analysis happening.
Sue Baird: Comment: in my area MI/AK/OK because of MOA inputs, landfills are not taking plastics. Veg production is being done on plastic. So, piles and piles of plastic are everywhere and nothing to do with it. Precedent if we allowed this and put commercial availability on this, what would encourage them to go up to 100%? Appreciated Brian’s answer. But we do have precedent in 606 because people see economic reason for developing organic products. Over time materials get taken off 606 maybe we would see the same thing happen here.
Mindee Jeffrey: Analogy of retailing: talking to consumers about plastic and how you don’t need a plastic bag to take veg homes. Over time consumers choosing to use less plastic. I’d rather choose to buy berries out of a cardboard container then choose to use a plastic mulch. Organic borne out of chemical-industrialization, and it’s a hard conversation. Feel the pain of what happens to farmers and piles of plastics. I can’t vote for this annotation change from the ethos of where we want to go.
Kyla Smith: At 205.206(c) it talks about weed problems being controlled through mulching with fully biodegradable materials or plastic mulches if they are removed – if this annotation passes, is that something that would get worked out within the Program on whether or not there would need to be a change to the practice standard? Asa Bradman: I cannot really answer that. Steve Ela: Great question with PE mulch listing still on the NL. If there is a question of interaction between these two- unsure how that would be handled.
Rick Greenwood: I want to go back to the desire for continuous improvement. In my thought, it usually takes place in small steps, and I see this as part of continuous improvement and reflect on the comment “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Obviously, we are all concerned about this, but I do think it is a step forward, and I am in favor of it. I can see that we aren’t happy about it, but I think it has potential to change some of the discussion. Steve Ela: Sue, Asa, and I were on the Board when we had a panel on BBM – 4 years ago – we were talking about this issue and really talking about the research, as the Board was talking about if these actually biodegrade and what are the effects on soil biota. The Board came down to let’s wait on the research results to come out from those studies. More information is always useful, but I’m afraid we are always going to get caught in that trap. AT that point, for me, it was really…and I still have the real question of whether these will actually biodegrade – in certain soils, yes, but in a lot of soils, not so sure. When Sue said about in 15 years still finding PE in her soils, I’m struggling with the fact that I think we’re going to keep finding these. Until I see research that says we are not, it’s inconclusive to me. I do wrestle with the fact that we are using PE in organic. I know the reason why we are using it on our farm. I wrestle with how often we have to use it on our farm. I’m totally conflicted on this topic. I agree with Rick that we should make incremental changes, but at least with PE, they are required to take it up. If a certifier sees it in the field, they can write it up, but with BBM they cannot. Small breeze can blow me either way.
Wood Turner: I want to go back to something Mindee said – I do want to talk about retail for a second. We keep battling about whether this is the right thing for organic crop production, but we need innovation across the value change. We are talking about organic in farms, but I’m talking about in stores. Consumers do not want to buy things in PE packaging. We need more innovation across the value chain. If another study tells me that a consumer does not want to take possession of berries in a box because they cannot touch the product. It gets deeply frustrating. We are sending so many mixed messages across the value chain. I love what you are saying and point you are making, Mindee, but I want to see more consumers say that they do not want plastic at all, and then we are going to see innovation at every point. We need a lot of innovation to get to where we want to go.
Mindee Jeffrey: I know there are a lot of retailers who do have these conversations. I think you are seeing people up against their choice of do I buy convenience food or do I have the time to participate in whole food.
Wood Turner: We have talked about the breakdown in recycling markets. With COVID, we have taken giant steps backwards on plastics in the consumer space. We have to really get serious on this.
Steve Ela: Several choices, we can send back to subcommittee, or we can vote on the proposal for the annotation change. Pausing to see what the feeling of the Board is. I am hearing that we should go ahead and proceed to the vote.
[NOTE: Added NOC’s suggested language to the annotation.]
Motion to accept the biodegradable biobased mulch film annotation recommendation. Motion by: Asa Bradman; Seconded by: Brian Caldwell. Yes: 10 – Kyla, Wood, Sue, Asa, Brian, Rick, Kim, Logan, Nate, Steve
No: 4 – Amy, Jerry, Carolyn, Mindee Abstain: 0 Absent: Recuse: 0. Motion passes.
National List Technical Correction for Sodium Nitrate
Motion to reinstate the listing of sodium nitrate at 7 CFR 205.602(g) – prohibited nonsynthetic: Sodium nitrate – unless use is restricted to no more than 20 percent of the crop’s total nitrogen requirement; use in spirulina production is unrestricted until October 21, 2005. Steve Ela: Asked for a work agenda item on this that was approved. Motion is to make a technical correction to the listing. The sunset review has been suspended for this material because the board voted simultaneously to change an annotation and to act on sunset to prohibit it, leaving sodium nitrate in limbo. Technically it should have sun-set based on the old sunset process. Public comments have some discussion on that. The documents left program to take action till 2012 and it was supposed to be resolved but never was. Intent of this proposal: stakeholders have requested we resolve this issue. I would prefer it be resolved by NOP acting on previous NOSB recommendation. So, let’s make this listing official again so it’s clear there is at least a 20% restriction on sodium nitrate, where people right now could make the argument that they could use more than 20%. Because it’s in limbo it can be used however it wants to be used and I am not in favor of that. So, this motion is to officially get it back on the list. I’d love to see a petition that expresses the NOSB’s desire to prohibit this material.
Amy Bruch: It’s important to get this back on the list and make it official. Chilean nitrate is more of the non-synthetic salt recovered from mine. Sodium nitrate I believe should be synthetic. Is there a way to parcel those two apart if this comes up as an agenda item?
Steve Ela: Chilean nitrate is sodium nitrate here, because only non-synthetic forms are allowed.
Logan Petrey: Question: why did the NOP take the NOSB’s recommendation to remove it?
Steve Ela: By my understanding is that it did not go through rulemaking. As NOSB we have no jurisdiction over economic concerns, but the program does. And the program did do an economic analysis and did not take it away because many people were using it.
Jenny Tucker: Programmatic question—talked about the different criteria between NOP and NOSB. It was known based on number of people using the substance it was going to have a significant economic impact. Decided not to do rulemaking because it would have a wide impact.
Steve Ela: For the most part stakeholders were in favor of this motion, but several brought up precedent issue hoping to honor previous NOSB recommendation. But felt that if we motioned to prohibit again we could have ended up with same fate.
Motion to reinstate the listing of sodium nitrate at 7 CFR 205.602(g) – prohibited nonsynthetic: Sodium nitrate – unless use is restricted to no more than 20 percent of the crop’s total nitrogen requirement; use in spirulina production is unrestricted until October 21, 2005. Motion by: Steve Ela; Seconded by: Brian Caldwell. Yes: 14 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion passes.
Petitioned for the addition to 205.602 – prohibited naturals.
Steve Ela: Sympathize with Emily having Marine Materials – complete empathy at this point. Will start with observations on the process, and then talk about the comments. We have already talked about the tenor of comments. I value the professionalism of the Board and the knowledge base of the Board, and I think that comments that address the issues rather than the people really do help the Board more. I am distressed that when we request consultant reveal who they are speaking on behalf of, and then they do not, that does such a disservice to the Board when making decisions, presenting facts, and knowing where things are coming from. I also want to address some of the comments about me engaging with stakeholders. I apologize for not catching in the subcommittee notes that it said I would engage with stakeholders and OTA. I meant to say that I knew OTA had a task force. I never engaged with them. I do not even know who was on it. There was no contact there. This is not a slam dunk in any sense of the words. I am going to summarize 4 main points. Stakeholders vs manufacturing comments, comments on recycling, definition and unintended consequences on other compounds, and tie everything back to OFPA. I think you can discern from the comments that were made – usually a fairly clear distinction – there are long-time organic stakeholders saying that this material does not meet the OFPA criteria and should not be allowed for use. On the other side, there are many of the manufacturers that are arguing that this fits well within OFPA and a system of organic farming. Board needs to balance stakeholders vs. manufacturers. Both make strong argument. NOC, OFA, OFARM, Cornucopia, BP, Organic Eye – missed some – have all said they support the prohibition no ammonia extract. Some of them support the final motion on 3:1 ratio, but many say send it back for more work. Scientists – on opposing sides of the fence. Much more detail in their written comments. The Board can decide what side of those comments you want to consider. Capturing of ammonia that may be going into the atmosphere – keeping ammonia out of the air. I think that is compelling in some way. On the other side, I think we have noted that with biochar, in particular, that organic does not have to be the ultimate recyclers. When it fits in the organic program, that’s great, but we do not have to do that – it’s not part of the core organic program. There are other areas where the Board has made a decision on this – newspapers – we do not allow colored or glossy papers. There have been comments on biochar and the carbon dioxide petition. Also, in terms of energy use – what it takes to produce AE, what it takes to ship manures – all of those comments were in public comments. Definitions: Of course, these motions would come down to definitions. As I have mentioned a number of times, I think the definitions are very important for the Board to hammer out explicitly, but on other sides, we are not the rule writers, and we do not have the expertise to write those rules, so intent is very important. To say what we want. On the definitions there were a number of comments that the definitions that we have before us would inadvertently include other materials, such as compost tea an other products. Having been on this Board for a long time, the certifiers and MROs are not shy to let us know when we have been ambiguous and it will make it difficult for them to interpret. I value that. They are on the frontlines and have to make those decisions. We can do well with our intent, but if the certifiers and MROs cannot understand it, there is an issue. All MROs and many certifiers made clear that this definition is clear and they can clearly interpret it. I take that to heart and that we’ve done a pretty good job. The ascertains that there would be unintended consequences, I do not think these apply. Stripping – The common chemical definition of stripping really helps with the compost tea and feather meal and fish debate – Steve read a definition about things not being vaporized. When you are thinking about capturing vapor, that is a difference from compost tea, where you are using a feedstock and letting things leach. You are adding water and not taking it away, in a sense. I appreciate the thoughts on wording and think that is always important, but the people that are going to be interpreting this have signed off and said they are in favor of it. OFPA – Does this fit within an organic system or not. We have heard a number of comments on both sides of this. From the proposal and comments, I will read from a few things. One was a comment on human health – not a lot of comments on either side. Ammonia is a pulmonary irritant and can cause bronchial issues. I did appreciate the one farmer who noted that he tried AE to see what they would do and said they could not be in their tractor for several hours because they spilled some. Effects on soil – in reference to the tenants of organic ag – on prior actions – it was noted that in contrast to the reductionism – the origins are in holistic and technological thinking. Forms the basis of how we analyze things. We are compelled to maintain and improve soil organic matter and show how we are doing that. Much of the research that has been done has not been done on organic soils. One study found that leaching increased on conventional grounds. Another study noted that the rate of mineralization increased when readily available fertilizers, such as ammonia, are added. You can make the argument that application increases nutrients, but you can also make the argument that you are breaking down carbon and mining carbon out of the system and decreasing the ability of the soil… We should encourage and enhance……… Reference that you start with legumes, crop rotations, and work for those materials to take care of nitrogen limitations. Also, dichotomy that I see personally and in the comments – ammonia extracts are used to promote soil health, but also MUST be used in conjunction with other organic practices – if they help, but also hurt, I don’t follow the argument. Two other comments made…there is some plant yellowing when applied, but that disappears in a couple of weeks as the system responds. To me, plant yellowing upon application is not an indication that it is beneficial to the system overall. One comment bothered me regarding use in CA that with the use of drip irrigation – concerned about the overuse of AE in systems. Noted by Dr. Jerry Hatfield that we need to use metanalysis to look at these things. He noted that when you looked at the various factors – crop rotation, inclusion of legumes, and other organic factors – traditional organic inputs do increase soil microbial size and diversity. The production of these materials take carbon value out of feedstock through filtration or other methods. Other things the research noted: if there are problems in the soil, bypassing them with ammonia should not be permitted. The NOP agreed with NOSB in the preamble to the rule that there should be restrictions on highly soluble materials. There should be a close look at materials with high solubility. Public comments were long and large. Lots of controversy.
Logan Petrey: Looking through OFPA and NOP handbook, and as farmer I have an OSP and use cover crops. Looking at the rule that healthy soils are the foundation of organic. Assumption that AE is harmful to healthy soils, don’t think that’s true. It’s being compared to anhydrous ammonia and it is not (80:80:0 product versus 6% liquid). Plants need ammonia converted to nitrate to use it. All our organic fertilizers turn into ammonia, nitrate, etc. Yes, important to use them appropriately but they are not going to make the soils unhealthy. For example, you could apply manure that would have ammonia at the same rate as these AE. The holistic approach is supposed to be within the program not within a material itself. Each material won’t have a holistic approach. Previously products that were AE were deemed okay. Sodium nitrate is widely used even though NOSB recommended it to be removed; used because it’s needed! There are vegetable farmers that need to maintain that quality. Not all corn, cereal grains; there is more. More to entire organic portfolio. 55 inches of rain here… for something like cilantro… there are leaching events. The 4 Rs of stewardship—right source, right rate, right time, right place—we must have side-address applications because we will lose our soil nitrogen. We can’t use those and get the job done here. NOP handbook states that growers are unique, want to hit home it is not anhydrous ammonia—different product. [Explains rates at which you would apply diff ammonia fertilizers, anhydrous versus ammonia.] It’s not that “hot” of a material. When you add anhydrous to soil it strips water from membranes, but when you add ammonia to the ground it requires bacteria to break it down. Again, it’s with that 20% and C:N ratio restriction. We don’t want to rely on this—and this could be a replacement for sodium nitrate and that would be good because that’s a non-renewable resource.
Steve Ela: I know we come down on opposites sides, but I very much respect your thoughts and opinions.
Nate Powell-Palm: Thinking about your farewell speech, in it talked about Borlaug and well-intentioned but misguided idea that we can fix large problems with single inputs. Spent last 70-80 years trying different methods; we’ve been saying we can fix things like food insecurity with But the green revolution has failed, people are going hungry. What we have found is that organics and a system works. If we engage the system and really honor the system of soil building. Taking to task that organic cannot feed the world – the myth – it is the only thing that will feed the world. It is the only thing that does not rely on making a system hungry for inputs rather than generating their own nutrition.
Kim Huseman: I don’t know how I am going to vote. I wish I could say that by prohibiting AE it will promote every US farmer to plant organic soybeans to prevent global shortage of soybeans, but it’s not. Logan has a point: you cannot grow any product you want to in [any location]. Being mindful that in certain areas there is a need more than in others leans me in one direction vs. Other. But then I go back to another court: fraud. How can we unequivocally understand and identify when and when not fraudulent activity happens that would sway my decision.
Logan Petrey: I want to say – because you use a water-soluble nitrogen does not mean that you do not build up the soil with other things. We do use a soluble with sodium nitrate when we need it, but we are building our soil. We grow carrots here – we do not have a nematode issue. The reason we do not is because we have such an incredible microbiology going on in the soil, even though I have to use sodium nitrate to meet consumer demand for almost perfection. As far as fraud, to my knowledge, they said they would be able to detect it based on the isotopes. I do not think we can prohibit something based on we think that people are going to cheat. Prohibiting something based on that – I appreciate your support on the other side of things. I cannot guarantee that people aren’t going to commit fraud. People who are going to comit fraud, there is no saying they aren’t going to buy conventional fertilizers when someone isn’t looking. If we do have the restriction of the 6% rule and it has to be overlooked, I think that will help.
Amy Bruch: Thank you Steve for how you are addressing this—very balanced. Couple things that come to mind, good point to have integrative systems and to focus on overall ecology of system. A lot of this comes back to root-cause analysis. What is the limiting factor preventing folks from hitting their production goals. Using N as a substitute—comment from NE saying they can’t grow. Another thing was on climate challenges. I’ve had the opportunity to farm in a couple of different areas. There were some comments on wet soil, cold soil, and I already had my nitrogen out there. Adding more nitrogen probably wasn’t the right solution. You need to look at what is preventing the yield. I think this product might be misused, and I think that finding the root cause might not be done. I do have some questions for Logan – last place I farmed was FL – from our experience, we farmed 2 rotations on both sides of the hurricane zone – crops out before May and then after hurricane system – and that’s when most of the rainfall was. In your crop rotations, how many fall in that hurricane timeframe?
Logan Petry: We do rotate with some N crops. Some of these are long crops, taking up significant amount of year. And the prep takes a long time. We are planting 10 months of the year. Carrots will go through the winter. Hurricane season—May is dry but hot, hard to grow. Some crops are long some are short we get the point. You have seasons. It’s dependent on season and pest pressure as well, we can’t plant and avoid leaching events. You are correct, we do not get that much rain per week. We’ve had two weeks now with no rain but it usually builds up to be a 2 ½ inch rain because of all the heat; it is building; we enjoy it, but get ready. It doesn’t matter how much I put out a hit, if I get that event, that nitrogen is gone. There are parts in Florida that have a soil where they don’t have those problems as strong as the sandy soils in the Northern part of Florida. In that leaching event, nitrogen is gone. It is a nitrogen problem that we can immediately fix with that limited use. We will still make an application of those slow-release fertilizers but they won’t be available. Weather is not consistent enough by the month. Hurricane season – Hurrican Mike came through in late October with inches and inches of rain. Not predictable enough to change farming practices.
Kim Huseman: Are you under irrigation or are you dryland? Amy Bruch: we are East central Nebraska. It is just supplemental irrigation. During our season, we get a fair amount of rain. Kim Huseman: We don’t live in an environment where we can turn spigot on half inch at a time.
Nate Powell-Palm: Thank you. I think I approach fraud from a position of being an inspector. How do you detect and mitigate fraud. It will be camouflage for fraud. No way to test is this Haber Bosch or manure derived extracts. What is the limitation on preventing fraud. There is none. As inspectors, ammonia is rough stuff. Inspectors can’t take those samples. It opens the gates to seeing rampant fraud across the board. How do we get farmers to grow soybeans? Because of crop rotations! That’s how we get farmers to grow. If you are pounding with AE then there is no incentive to grow legumes. Just high yielding high dollar nitrogen feeders. Logan – can you speak real quick to, do you grow anything that is a nitrogen fixer. What part of the credit do they make up.
Logan Petrey: I want to comment on the SBs. I have tried to grow SB three years, and it almost ends up in a crop failure because of the pest pressures that we get in the late summer. We get stink bug issues that sting the pods and the foliates, we get a lot of issues with SBs. Not much growing during that July/August period. Other fixers, we are looking t growing peanuts – we grew some this year. Sun hemp is our main summer cover crop. Then we use ?? as a rotation. We do green beans, peanuts, and we do edamame.
Nate Powell-Palm: When you said you get a lot of rain and there’ a lot of leaching, it seems like AE would be a prime candidate to experience this with – much more volatile form. In regenerative agriculture, in the idea of regenerative as I understand it, folks are understanding that organic is the golden standard, and folks are looking at cutting our ammonia use. Why would we go in the opposite direction? Leach out, volatile compared to manures, recognized as damaging to soils – causes microbial blooms, yes, but that’s not feeding the soil. Once it’s over, it needs another dose to go again. It is not systemic and not sustaining.
Logan Petrey: Not using AE solely. It is only part of the program. It is used when ammonia that has been broken down from the organic sources like manures. It has become that product. When organic fertilizers leach, I use AE to supplement, just like sodium nitrate. It is strictly there to mitigate quality losses from a leaching rain. It is not one or the other. It is a blend and part of the organic systems plan. It is not moving backwards. When I write programs for the season, I don’t put the readily available nitrogen in there. I have the compost, blood meal, feather meal, pasteurized chicken litter. When we have unpredictable events, we use those materials. We need it to be used as a tool. If the NOP could not follow through because of the economic issue, it is needed. I don’t like using it. I wish I could just use “organic” products.
Steve Ela: This is not a referendum on Logan.
Logan Petrey: I appreciate the dialogue. I don’t feel attacked. I’ve wanted to answer those questions.
Steve Ela: Let’s keep the discussion on the material and give all the Board members a chance to talk.
Sue Baird: Hi. Interesting material. Been organic inspector since 2000, 21 years. We were taught when I went to IOIA to calculate nitrate based on crops needs, invoices, etc. I think it’s very—fraud happens—very doable to do these calculations. Some of these materials according to OMRI are already in production. For sure mixed with other products. We are already using them. Torn because my first understanding but … intending that this is to be a supplemental source of nitrogen on an as-needed basis, like with sodium nitrate. Fraud may be happening with sodium nitrate too. I do inspections all over, including leafy-greens areas and they use sodium nitrate. Do consumer understand that? Maybe not. They think it’s all crop rotations? People are using crop rotation but it may not be the same as what people think of as crop rotation in the Midwest. I hate that we are destroying bats natural habitat in Chile. I would like to find another sustainable, local, domestic source for those farmers that I am not one of. Nitrogen for when it’s needed—I don’t want to see yellow leafy greens. I am told that green leafy greens do not happen with an injection of nitrogen. In my part of the world growing soy, wheat, clover, corn… and even though they are rotating into red clover or alfalfa they still never meet the demand for N in my part of the world. So, a lot of these farms “fly on” liquid fish as a source of additional N. And it’s harvested from Manhattan fish—and is that sustainable? They say not. If I could get it from a local manure… there have been lawsuits about poultry manure polluting the water—if we could get rid of a little manure, I think people would be happy. Is that supporting CAFOs? Maybe, but CAFOs are there.
Nate Powell-Palm: I wasn’t addressing audits. That’s not where the fraud exists. It exists in the source of ammonia on the farm. We can’t tell if from AE process or anhydrous mixed with compost manure.
Steve Ela: I would like to jump in with my own comments. I try to be respectful of others. In all this, Sue to your point. CDFA says they can. OMRI says they can’t. I worry about international use as well and fraud. To Logan’s points. This is not about Logan versus everyone else. Jacob’s Farm. Taylor. Others said they don’t need it. Great farmers who don’t need it as well. OFPA means maintaining or increasing soil organic matter. Do these materials help us? I don’t see it. On my own farm, I would love something to push things in the spring. They are high nitrogen use. I’ve tried to work with cover crops. I still come back to maintaining or increasing soil organic matter as the base. Sue – one of the problems on NOSB is that we are reactive rather than proactive. That’s why I wrote last motion with 3 to 1 ratio so products don’t get on the market and then we are trying to pull them back. To me, this discussion on ammonia extracts is to get ahead before they become widely used and not have that economic impact. I just think it comes down in terms of feeding soil biota. Protein and amino acids versus plant available nutrients. Logan is right – plants use ammonia and nitrate. It is not just a simple mineralization process. It is feeding the soil with carbon. So, I feel strongly about that. To me, that’s how we approach soil organic matter issue. There were comments that we are suppressing novel, innovative ideas. I want to see innovation with cover crops. How to approach through use of amino acids and proteins. Organic IS innovative and novel. Not just substitution for what are conventional materials. There is a bigger issue beyond just Logan. Stakeholders feel this is an important topic. We are not talking about just one farm. I don’t want to tie your hands or hurt you, but I want to see the big picture of organics move forward.
Kyla Smith: Enjoying this discussion and everybody’s POV and the professionalism. Big thing from cert perspective is around the def and making sure those are enforceable—those were consistent in public comment. In looking back through the documents—intent is really important and I am confident the SC has described and carried the thread through in how they talk about these definitions. Confident because of that and the written comments that the definitions are sound. Also thinking about stripped ammonia process—the process is new, right? From my understanding: these products in market now are new (2 years old). Lots of years of production not having these products. Not a farmer but we got this farm not having these available—why do we need these products now when we haven’t had them for lots of years?
Logan Petrey: I can answer that directly. It is new. It is not the need of AE but rather water-soluble nitrogen. Obviously needed because of sodium nitrate issue we’ve had with NOP.
Mindee Jeffrey: Thank you. I can’t express my respect enough for the conversation. I appreciate everyone on all sides. For me, the battle for understanding how we can best impact soil health in the nation. Organic is having to work harder than it should have to work to convince people we are the soil health system of agriculture. Compelled by how the material review folks have gone about it. Definitions are functional. Work that organic needs to do to help folks understand we are a soil-health emphasis. I don’t want to take a hit on that from perception perspective. For the first two prohibitions and open to hearing about the third. That’s where it lands for me.
Nate Powell-Palm: I want to think back to earlier today on kasugaymcin vote. You said material would be super helpful to you but standards are above our own personal needs. In face of competing labels, how to keep organic the gold standard. We can’t cede that ground. With a strong voice, we can say organic is gold standard for soil health.
Logan Petrey: [objected to comparison with kasugamycin.]
Steve Ela: Quick comment. Ultimately look at public comments—stakeholders that have been around for a long time that say we don’t want this and manufacturers say “we do want this”… appreciate the stakeholders opinion, and they don’t have a vested monetary interest quite honestly. Big issue for me. With that—we still have the Sunsets to move forward on so we should move on. [Logan Petrey now asks to move the entire issue back to Sub committee.]
Motion to move back to subcommittee: Motion by Logan; Seconded by Asa. Yes – Sue, Asa, Kim, Logan; No – Amy, Brian, Jerry, Carolyn, Rick, Mindee, Nate, Kyla, Wood, Steve. Motion fails.
Classification Motion: Motion to classify ammonia extracts as nonsynthetic Motion by: Steve Ela; Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 14 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion passes. National List Motions: Motion to add at §205.602, non-synthetic substances prohibited for use in organic crop production: Stripped Ammonia – created by separating, isolating and/or capturing ammonia or ammonium from an agricultural feedstock or other natural source using methods such as, but not limited to, steam stripping, pressurized air, heat, condensation, and/or distillation. Motion by: Steve Ela; Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 13, Amy, Brian, Jerry, Carolyn, Rick, Kim, Mindee, Kyla, Nate, Wood, Sue, Asa, Steve.
No: 1, Logan. Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion passes.
Motion to add at §205.602, non-synthetic substances prohibited for use in organic crop production: Concentrated Ammonia – contains greater than 3% ammoniacal nitrogen and the total nitrogen content is predominately (i.e., >50%) in the ammonia or ammonium form. Motion by: Steve Ela; Seconded by: Asa Bradman. Yes: 13 No: 1 – Logan Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion Passes. Kyla Smith motions to send the next motion back to subcommittee.
Nate Powell-Plam seconds. Yes 10 – Kim, Mindee, Logan, Nate, Kyla, Wood, Sue, Asa, Amy, Jerry; No – Carolyn, Rick, Brian, Steve. Motion Passes. The following motion is sent back to Subcommittee:
Motion to add at §205.203(f): Nitrogen products with a C:N ratio of 3:1 or less, including those that are components of a blended fertilizer formulation, are limited to a cumulative total use of 20% of crop needs. Motion by: Steve Ela; Seconded by: Logan Petrey.
5:25 PM ET: Crops Subcommittee, Sunsets
Copper Sulfate – for use in aquatic rice systems
Reference: §205.601(a)(3) Copper sulfate – for use as an algicide in aquatic rice systems, is limited to one application per field during any 24-month period. Application rates are limited to those which do not increase baseline soil test values for copper over a timeframe agreed upon by the producer and accredited certifying agent; and, 205.601(e)(4) Copper sulfate—for use as tadpole shrimp control in aquatic rice production, is limited to one application per field during any 24-month period. Application rates are limited to levels which do not increase baseline soil test values for copper over a timeframe agreed upon by the producer and accredited certifying agent.Jerry D’Amore: Reviewing 2 uses of copper sulfate for aquatic rice. Both limited to 1 application per field during 1 24-month period and do not increase baseline soil rates. Copper sulfate is hazardous to human health and the environment, but has been keep for all three uses on the NL, as there is not yet an alternative use. Abrupt delisting would have tremendous negative impact on US rice growing. Much of the SC review centered on written and oral comments presented during our Spring meeting. Excess of 25 comments, with overwhelming in favor of keeping on the list. What has been a common theme in all comments is that even those commenters that were not in favor of the material was no call to immediately delist, but that we look to continuous improvement. The CS has called as a comprehensive review of copper sulfate as part of the Research Priorities – this is on the list for the 2021 timeframe.
Nate Powell-Palm: I think talking about hitting that critical level of ppm that is toxic, or that critical threshold of what is too much – can you speak to that and about what your research showed and ultimately how you think we might be able to do some work on the board on this question.
Jerry D’Amore: One I wrestled with. What I came to after talking to certifiers on our own Board is the most critical piece is a baseline established over years. During SC review, I went through that and was quite heartened to find that records that go as much as 11 years, and sometimes as few as 4, that in each case there was actually a decline in the baseline numbers in the soil based on farm records that were shared with me. I was frustrated in this process, and that’s why I reached out to certifiers, because universally I could not get farmers or certifiers to give me a red flag indication. The answer that came back from the certifier community is that certifiers and farmers predicate it on crop, particular seasonality, soils – were reluctant to put themselves into a corner. During stakeholder review, there were some thoughts that 50 ppm were acceptable. That sounds high. I do not have red flags. I am told that I probably will not get red flags. I’m not sure that’s a good answer. I do take heart in the ppm values that I saw and real stock that over a period of time – as much as 16 years – that the progression wasn’t linear. It did vary up and down. There may be room for something that would give us internally an ability to look at this and say this is worthy of a deeper look.
Nate Powel-Palm: that helps. Ruminating on possible work agenda item, lightly linked to looking more into sanitizers and overall toxicology of the products we use.
Wood Turner: I have a lot of problems with this material, but also certainly aware of the impact it could have if it was removed. I’m hung up on the language. I find the discretionary language of this conversation between the producer and certifying agents too murky. There is almost this negotiated agreement. It feels too loose to me and I feel like I’d be more comfortable understanding real thresholds of concern. Can anyone speak to an example of that dynamic?
Kyla Smith: I don’t, for PCO, we don’t certify any rice. These two listings of copper sulfate I don’t have experience with—the third listing of copper sulfate is my experience, and it is not annotated in the same way. I don’t know that it’s annotated at all. It just says it can’t accumulate in the soils—it does not talk about baseline at all. So [it looks like] you have to establish a baseline with certifier and producer. We have to go back and address things when they become a problem. IN the future maybe we could align annotations because they are not all the same. With regards to other listing—dependent where in the world you are using said material, site-specific conditions as part of an OSP. Comes up between certifiers and stakeholders at large consistently: sometimes we want prescriptive things because it’s easier to enforce, but if it’s too prescriptive drives folks crazy because there is no flexibility. So, finding the balance so it can be applied to meet site specific needs.
Jerry D’Amore: Copper sulfate for disease control is on the docket for the coming year, so maybe that is something you’d like to look at.
Amy Bruch: The stakeholder community resonated loud and clear the need for this. I know there were references to it being used in row crop farming without issue. The functionality of copper sulfate when it is applied to water is very different than when applied to the soil – definitely a distinction there, and I wanted to point that out.
Brian Caldwell: Thank you, Jerry. Encouraging that soil test numbers hover around same values and don’t increase. Certifiers would be looking for increasing soil test numbers… but those soil tests use certain extractions to extrapolate what crops see—certifier might think to test for total copper, zinc, etc. To see what could be problematic along the way. Part of continuous improvement 5 years from now: if soil copper levels are not increasing, where is it going? It could be going out in crop, or it could go into other water channels.
Jerry D’Amore: Thanks to your prodding last time around, I did spend time with certifiers on water, too. CCOF was very robust on the findings they were getting through the water. They were even more robust than soils, and they were very happy with the soils. I was not able to get a red flag indicator on this, either.
Asa Bradman: Brian made a good point: measuring total vs extractable content in the soil. Bioavailable would be a weaker acid to extract. Some of that copper we are not finding could just be inactive in soil. Concerned about water contamination, impacts on habitat, birds, salmon fry, etc.
Jerry D’Amore: There I was prodded by my PhD daughter on what is might do to birds and aquatic and amphibious creatures. The farming community, particularly, even without my prodding on that, sort of turned that around on me saying that they will leave fields fallow and untreated in a way that would be a net benefit to migratory birds. One thing that I do not think I’ve said quite clearly enough – it should not be assumed that copper sulfate is used as a preventative measure against the shrimp, as this would indeed be not allowed. The only thing that I could add is that all of the producers that I’ve spoken with here in CA, they have indicated that they have taken a real stab at crop rotation, vetch being the biggest one. My sense of it is that the community has not ignored this issue. I think our community here has asked itself a lot of these questions and made some robust attempts at trying to do their own mitigation there.
Steve Ela: if it’s added, it’s got to come out somewhere. Asa may have nailed it that it’s just not bio-available. Let’s move to the vote.
Motion to remove copper sulfate from the National List at 205.601(a)(3) and 205.601(e)(4) Motion by: Jerry D’Amore; Seconded by: Rick Greenwood. Yes: 3 – Asa, Amy, Carolyn No: 11 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove fails.
Reference: §205.601(a)(5) Ozone gas—for use as an irrigation system cleaner only. Rick Greenwood: Ozone is a strong oxidant and for use as an irrigation system cleaner only. Important to keep in mind. Ozone is reactive. People think about the ozone layer. This is a reactive compound and reacts very quickly and never really escapes from the system. In terms of stakeholders, virtually everyone was in favor of keeping it on the NL. Opposed to chlorine compounds, there is no residual. Turns back into basically water. Fairly simple compound.
No discussion.Motion to remove ozone gas from the National List Motion by: Rick Greenwood; Seconded by: Amy Bruch. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 2 Recuse: 0.Motion to remove fails.
Reference: §205.601(a)(6) Peracetic acid—for use in disinfecting equipment, seed, and asexually propagated planting material. Also permitted in hydrogen peroxide formulations as allowed in §205.601(a) at concentration of no more than 6% as indicated on the pesticide product label; and, 205.601(i)(8) Peracetic acid – for use to control fire blight bacteria. Also permitted in hydrogen peroxide formulations as allowed in §205.601(i) at concentration of no more than 6% as indicated on the pesticide product label.Wood Turner: Important sanitizer, important cleaning material, also used to control fireblight bacteria. Has wide support across community for all uses. Reiterate that these materials and chlorine materials are part of larger conversation around sanitizers—strong support to re-evaluate how we think about these issues. No discussion.
Motion to remove peracetic acid from the National List Motion by: Wood Turner; Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove fails.
EPA List 3 Inerts of unknown toxicity
Reference: §205.601(m)(2) EPA List 3—Inerts of unknown toxicity—for use only in passive pheromone dispensers. Steve Ela: Fairly straightforward. The comments given to us are similar for List 4. There is universal opinion that List 3 is obsolete and there should be a better way. There are a number of stakeholders that say delist and solve the problem. A number begging us not to disrupt. The problem needs to be solved. Program is working on the inerts listing. It is up to the stakeholders in many ways to come up with solutions to this problem. Implore stakeholders to be creative and thoughtful to solutions to this. In favor of relisting, even though there are the issues in reference to List 3. It should be noted that there are only 4 materials on this list, as passive pheromone dispensers, so this is one that it would be realistic to review each one on their own, but I guess I would like to see it done as part of the larger List 4. The other thing to note is that there isn’t any contact with the product or crop.
Asa Bradman: Important that these are not in direct contact with food, and possibly makes it less conflicted than with List 4. We should really move fast to address inerts in general, and in principle there are the same issues here. We have a road map on how to move ahead – great outlines on that from stakeholders – I feel like the path forward is clear – we need to put the resources into it. I am going to vote to remove this, but I know we need access to these, but the base materials should be regulated in a different way. No further discussion.
Motion to remove EPA List 3 from the National List Motion by: Steve Ela; Seconded by: Asa Bradman. Yes: Asa No: 13 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove fails.
6 PM ET: Meeting closes (to reconvene October 21 at 12pm ET)
Thursday, October 21, 2021: NOSB Meeting
12 PM ET: Call to Order, Crops Subcommittee (Cont.)
The NOSB meeting is called to order for it’s final day. The Board begins by finishing the Crops Subcommitte (CS) sunset materials (left over from the day before). Rick Greenwood leads the CS
Chlorine materials – Calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, Hypochlorous acid generated from electrolyzed water, sodium hypochlorite
Reference: §205.601(a) – As algicide, disinfectants, and sanitizer, including irrigation system cleaning systems. (2) Chlorine materials -For pre-harvest use, residual chlorine levels in the water in direct crop contact or as water from cleaning irrigation systems applied to soil must not exceed the maximum residual disinfectant limit under the Safe Drinking Water Act, except that chlorine products may be used in edible sprout production according to EPA label directions. Technical Report(s): 1995 TAP; 2006 TR; 2011 TR . Past NOSB Actions: 10/1995 NOSB minutes and vote; 04/2006 NOSB sunset recommendation; 04/2011 NOSB sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation Recent Regulatory Background: Added to National List 2/20/2001 (65 FR 80547), Sunset renewal notice 3/21/2017 (82 FR 14420); Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577). Sunset Date: 10/30/2024
Wood Turner: We are going to present and vote on these together. Pains me this is often a perfunctory vote—chlorine materials shouldn’t be in organic. Food Safety Modernization Act effects this. There is clear support for the re-listing of all these materials because we need to deliver food safety. So many producers are using these materials. The requirements of the listing are: For pre-harvest use, residual chlorine levels in the water in direct crop contact or as water from cleaning irrigation systems applied to soil must not exceed the maximum residual disinfectant limit under the Safe Drinking Water Act, except that chlorine products may be used in edible sprout production according to EPA label directions. Any discussion? We are pretty clear on this.
Asa Bradman: I want to reiterate by reference I am incorporating all my previous comments about the dangers of chlorine materials into this vote.
Sue Baird: Thank you Asa; enlightened all of us to some of the inherent dangers of chlorine materials for human health. We need to do continuous improvement.
Motion to remove Calcium hypochlorite from the National List Motion: Wood Turner; Seconded by Logan Petrey. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from National List fails.Motion to remove chlorine dioxide from the National List Motion: Wood Turner; Seconded by Logan Petrey. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from National List fails.Motion to remove Hypochlorous acid generated from electrolyzed water from the National List Motion: Wood Turner; Seconded by Logan Petrey. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from National List fails.Motion to remove sodium hypochlorite from the National List Motion: Wood Turner; Seconded by Logan Petrey. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from National List fails.
Reference: §205.601(j)(5) Magnesium oxide (CAS # 1309-48-4)—for use only to control the viscosity of a clay suspension agent for humates. Technical Report(s): 2021 TR Petition(s): 2013. Past NOSB Actions: 5/2014 NOSB recommendation to add . Recent Regulatory Background: Added to NL 12/27/2018 (83 FR 66559). Sunset Date: 1/28/2024.
Amy Bruch: Listed as plant or soil amendment. One addition for spring meeting is we did get the technical report. The water insoluble nature makes it unlikely to enter water systems. Handful of comments supported re-listing. Mostly needed as a recycling agent to improve soils, recycle water, etc. Benefits to farmers when they apply humates in liquid form. One cautious comment received was that this was the first sunset review and there was a minority opinion to have a set sunset date. FDA lists magnesium oxide as safe; EPA lists it as an inert ingredient used pre-and-post harvest exempt from requirements. No discussion.
Motion to remove magnesium oxide from the National List Motion by: Amy Bruch; Seconded by: Logan Petrey. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from the National List fails.
Reference: §205.602(c) Calcium chloride, brine process is natural and prohibited for use except as a foliar spray to treat a physiological disorder associated with calcium uptake. Technical Report: 2001 TAP; 2021 TR . Petition(s): 2005; 2015 Past NOSB Actions: 09/1996 minutes and vote; 11/2006 annotation change (failed); 11/2007 sunset recommendation; 12/2011 sunset recommendation; 10/2016 sunset recommendation . Recent Regulatory Background: National List amended 10/31/2003 (68 FR 61987); Sunset renewal notice effective 11/03/2013 (78 FR 61154); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347). Sunset Date: 5/29/2023
Logan Petrey: Easy one, prohibited except for foliar treatment. Non-synthetic source, can be extracted from brines. Only the non-synthetic is allowed. Public comment: this is a very used products used to treat disorders like rain cracking, blossom rot, bitter pit, etc. Application of foliar calcium sprays helps with local issues due to calcium transport issues. Soil applications get bound up and not available. This is widely supported; many say there would be significant losses if this was not re-listed. This listing also helps prevent the soil buildup of chloride.
Steve Ela: Comment—our farm has 7.8-8pH we have calcium very available on our farm, but we can still get bitter pit in apples (which is a calcium deficiency) because calcium goes into the plant through water. So if there is drought, or water stress the plant will pull calcium form the fruit. That’s why it can be very useful—you can put calcium directly on the fruit and avoid those physiological issues.
Amy Bruch: Question at the time: looking at base pH versus base saturation in soil to see how much calcium is available.
Logan Petrey: We also see that problem in very humid times when the plant is not pulling water; another example of how deficiency can occur.
Amy Bruch: We had issues in FL too even though our soil is very calcium-high.
Rick Greenwood: Farming is not easy.
Motion to remove calcium chloride from the National List Motion by: Logan Petrey; Seconded by: Brian Caldwell. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from the National List failed.
Rick Greenwood: On NL as prohibited substance—highly toxic compound that has been used in the past. Comes from tropical plant root and used to kill fish in waters, and used in veggies and berries to kill pests. It was once registered by EPA as pesticide, but can no longer be used. You can buy it in other countries. Documented human health issues. The idea is to keep it on the NL as a prohibited natural substance. Steve Ela: Even though it isn’t registered it stays on our NL because it could be in use in other countries?
Rick Greenwood: Yes. Good reminder that our rules affect relationship with other countries.
Motion to remove rotenone from the National List Motion by: Rick Greenwood; Seconded by: Amy Bruch. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from the National List failed.
12:25 PM ET: Handling Subcommittee (HS), Petitions and Proposals
The NOSB then moves onto the Handling Subcommittee, starting with petitions and proposals.
Petition for use of zein, or corn protein, as a “Nonorganic agricultural substance[s] allowed in or on processed products labelled as organic,” as well as the recently submitted 2021 technical review. Jerry D’Amore: After review of the petition, TR, and decision tree, and in consideration of past NOP decisions, it is now presented as a non-agricultural substances and was voted through SC as non-synthetic. Originally petitioned as a glaze, coating, taste masker, wheat gluten substitute, and in pharmaceuticals. TR notes it is GRAS. Anticaking agent, drying agent, free-flow agent, and humicant. As indicated in the document presented for the fall session, there were approximately 10 total comments, with none in favor of adding to the NL. Fall – 7 commenter – none in favor of adding zein to the NL. For the spring session, only 2 were against the material, with remainder indicating that our industry does not need another shelf-life extender. Fall – only one group said it was against the material for lack of essentiality. [Reviewed comments.] All comments are thoughtful and informative. Only one or two organizations are opposed to listing Zein on the NL as it is currently annotated. In SC, we had three full discussions on this material, with much of the debate centering around essentiality. Zein is created from a renewable resource (corn gluten meal), it is fully biodegradable, and it presents no threat to human health. As the substance is created and applied in the laboratory, it has no impact on the agroecosystem beyond serving as a vehicle for ingesting organic pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products. I would like to go a bit off script. I personally feel we may have annotated this material too restrictively. I personally think that it could have other uses, but the majority of the HS felt otherwise, and I respect their opinions. I note this, as I do not think we would have achieved the vote that we did in SC had the restriction not been what it was.
Kyla Smith: This material is interesting because it, as Jerry explained, it is maybe more complicated than it should be and there are lots of nuanced things that come into play here because of a previous Board’s discussion on corn steep liquor, which is related due to the process. There is that, but we didn’t have the decision trees at the time. There is the definition that we need to look at. For me, the classification part is the most complicated part of the material, before we even get to what it could or should be used for. I do not feel this resolved for me, and I would recommend that this go back to subcommittee to take a deeper dive in looking at the classification.
Mindee Jeffrey: I will second it the motion.
Jerry D’Amore: As a clarification, the reference to no decision tree goes back to corn steep liquor.
Kyla Smith: That was a recommendation – I will let Asa say his piece.
Asa Bradman: I was one of the people who would vote no on this material, except with the very strict annotation that we proposed. I think I’m a little more flexible on the 5% than others. The notion that this might be able to provide more access to vegan pharmaceuticals. I’m leery of this being an unlabeled ingredient – especially in coatings for fruits. Especially, whether or not it could be produced from organic corn gluten meal. I think that for the narrow allowance that we’ve proposed, it is not a bad thing.
Steve Ela: As Jerry noted without the very narrow annotation this likely would have failed in SC. Might have failed in full Board discussion—if we vote it back to SC we continue to work on it; and if we think it would fail anyway, I suggest we don’t send it back to SC. Whether classification vote fails or not could also affect this decision. I am going to have a hard time voting on it regardless.
Mindee Jeffrey: If we don’t vote it back to SC; concern about precedent-setting votes and a a lack of clarity. Could we fail the motion to classify and leave it undecided? Clarifying the process of voting.
Kyla Smith: That is my concern. Because there has been such a reliance on precedent for this material specifically, I feel irresponsible doubling down on continuing the confusion. I would like to get it right for future Boards to look at. That is my hesitation to move forward.
Jerry D’Amore: I would like to say that I agree with Kyla. As the lead on this one, I would not feel right about it just going into limbo and dying a slow death or going into the vapors with having failed to get it done. As the lead, I would welcome a notion to bring it back to SC.
Steve Ela: To answer Mindee’s question, we could fail the motion to classify, which would indicate the Board hadn’t come to a decision, leave it as the Board has not decided, and then go back to subcommittee after that vote to determine that more and decide whether to continue to work on it, or we can send it back to SC right now and just work on the whole thing. I personally would rather see it have the vote on the classification and then not work on it further. I do not see this as based on the SC discussion as a material that is going to go forward. I would have it off our work agenda and work on other things.
Mindee Jeffrey: What you are saying functionally is that by your logic, if we fail the classification motion, we fail the petition?
Steve Ela: No. We can take a vote to send I back to SC, and if we do not, then it dies right there. If you do want to work on it further, get the classification right, and then decide if we want to work on it further. There is a mechanism to leave it on our work agenda or take it off.
Mindee Jeffrey: If we don’t classify it, does that mean that an MROs could allow it as a non-synthetic?
Kyla Smith: Handling list works differently – 605 materials have to be listed to be used at all.
Rick Greenwood: A quick comment – each of us has to think about how much time we want to spend on something when we ultimately think it’s not going to be added to the NL. We can spend a lot of time on classification issues and then end up voting it down. That is something that should guide our decision on what we do.
Steve Ela: I actually think the listing motion is correct. I went through the data and I know that my opinion is not everyone’s, but that’s my two cents.
Mindee Jeffrey: What do you think Kyla? Do you like Steve’s plan?
Kyla Smith: I do agree that I do not want to waste time working on something that is moot. On the other hand, I do feel that accuracy is important. I feel very conflicted based on a read-through of all of the items – TR – working through the decision tree – the previous stuff. I feel unresolved about it.
Kyla Smith: I don’t want to waste time working on something that is moot. On the other hand do feel that accuracy is important. Feel very conflicted when reading through all the items—TR , decision tree, etc.–I feel unresolved.
Nate Powell-Palm: Don’t mean to belabor—thinking about classification does seem correct. We can get that part done. Hear clearly that we want to do it right, but a question of resources and time—if we are just going to come to the same conclusions.
Kim Huseman: Is it possible to change order of voting.
Steve Ela: [No]
Kim Huseman: I don’t see anybody other the petitioner promoting this substance. Why do we want to add something to NL that is not needed? There is not stakeholder input other than the petitioner. I will have a hard time voting this in anyway.
Jerry D’Amore: Losing steam because it might not be mine to take care of it is I’m not on the right subcommittee. Answering Kim—I don’t see the correlation with brand new petition and something so specific and people not saying they need it—the newness and uniqueness of it for annotated uses, would mean that people wouldn’t have an outcry for it. As a hydrophobic this could be the best in the industry at that—if that’s it then I feel I’d still like to go forward with it. Left to me I’d ask to have it sent back to subcommittee.
Steve Ela: Looking at OMRI’s comments again. They find the classification as non-synthetic and agriculture… OMRI agrees with our classification.
Sue Baird: I think I am comfortable with the classification as a nonsynthetic – based on history and OMRI’s comments. I agree…I have vegan friends that it’s like “poison” in their systems if they have to take an animal product. I think they probably need this product. The fact that you have it limited so specifically by annotation, I think you have done great for Jerry to continue working on it, I would support that.
Kyla Smith: Steve, you read OMRI’s comment, that said based on the NOP’s precedence with Corn Steep Liquor, but now we have a new tool with the decision tree and a new TR. There is enough for me to warrant a further look.
Steve Ela: I want to be clear, OMRI did use the decision tree to result in a non-synthetic classification.
Nate Powell-Palm: Sue’s comment about the need – I think that OTA did canvas their members, especially their supplements council, and there did not sound as if there was anyone coming out strong for it. I think we want to stay within what we know to be the need rather than guess. Those asked and those stakeholders involved have not said they want this.
Mindee Jeffrey: I am of a mind to vote on the classification and not work on this further in hopes that we vote it down, frankly. I’m not sure that we need the use, and I didn’t hear that from stakeholders.
Jerry D’Amore: I am going to give it back to the chair. I’ve said my piece. Happy for consensus.
Jenny Tucker: This has been a fascinating conversation. I do wonder if a new option has been raised through the discussion that could be implemented. I think it was good reminder that on this part of the list, everything has to be listed. I think, from a Program perspective, given the conversation that has happened and given the conversation on classification, I think we would be comfortable voting on the listing prior to voting on the classification. That would give you a roadmap for whether or not you have to considering classification further, but would not leave a mystical classification vote out there.
Steve Ela: Anyone object to voting on listing prior to classification?
Asa Bradman: I have a question about 605 and the possibility of organic sources of this material, which we haven’t really discussed. I do not know if Jerry has a comment on the possibility on sourcing this from organic sources. I know the producer says it is not available, but if it was listed and down the road and it became available, could we influence that if it’s on 605.
Jerry D’Amore: I did not find any availability for it as organic now.
Asa Bradman: I wanted to note the constraints of 605 – does not require organic use if it is available.
Steve Ela: Back to the motions – any desire to send back to subcommittee?
Brian Caldwell: I thought we just decided to take the vote on the second motion first.
Steve Ela: If we don’t go back to SC right now we have to vote on the motions as they stand.
Brian Caldwell moves to send it back to Subcommittee, seconded by Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 5 No: 9 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to move back to Subcommittee fails.National List Motion: Motion to add zein at §205.605(a), annotated as: “Only for use in nutraceuticals or pharmaceuticals as a micro encapsulation acting as a moisture barrier and taste masker.” Motion by: Jerry D’Amore; Seconded by: Steve Ela. Yes: 3 (Asa, Jerry, Brian) No: 10 (Amy, Carolyn, Rick, Kim, Mindee, Nate, Kyla, Wood, Steve, Sue) Abstain: 1 (Brian) Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion fails. This item is now removed from the NOSB’s work agenda.
Fish Oil Annotation
Fish oil annotation: §205.606 (e) Fish oil (Fatty acid CAS #’s: 10417-94-4, and 25167-62-8) – stabilized with organic ingredients or only with ingredients on the National List, §§205.605 and 205.606. Sourced from fishing industry by-product only and certified as sustainable against a third-party certification that is International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling (ISEAL) Code Compliant or Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative (GSSI) recognized.Asa Bradman: Another challenging issue. This dates back to over a year ago when the Board voted to renew the listing of fish oil, but several members of the Board at that time, and I supported, noted that vote to relist fish oil was contingent on a Work Agenda item to have fish oil products come from sustainable fish stocks. That led to a process where the original proposal was for standards set by NOAA and FAO for UN for out of US jurisdiction fisheries. The lack of consistency between those two agencies, different approaches, and different definitions were the issue that came out of that. I inherited this from Tom Chapman and started to communicate with organic stakeholders and with folks at NOAA, Seafood Watch, and Marine Sustainability Council, and public comments. We proposed 3 possible choices for last spring, and those choices covered 1) a generic “fish sourced from byproduct only” and from a fishery that was certified sustainable by a 3rd party; 2) as sourced from a fishing industry byproduct only and ISEAL compliant or global seafood sustainability recognized; 3) to use the Monterey… The first was preferred by many on the industry side, but others felt it was too weak and great chance for greenwashing. The 3rd was that the Monterey reach was more consumer oriented, and did not seem broad enough to cover the range of fisheries that would be sourced for fish oil. That left us with the 2nd option. We refined the language a little bit. To summarize range of comments – general support for this option. There is some general objection for the listing of fish oil on the NL, and I think that is a sunset issue. I think of fish oil as a consumer choice issue as a labeled ingredient. Major concerns about the proposal focuses on the reliance on 3rd party certification – GSSI or ISEAL. OTCO and others are outright opposed to outsourcing a 3rd party certification within the NOP standards. That is a concern that we highlighted in the writeup. I think that we have to realize, too, that with an organic food system, we use a lot of resources that come from outside of the organic food system. Many of our resources originate outside that system, particularly with marine materials where we are taking something from outside, that is inherently beyond the scope of what we can do as an agency and as a program. There is the wild crop option, although I personally do not believe there should be a wild crop option with the organic program – another issue. There was also a sense that we should fast track an aquaculture standard, and that could solve the sourcing issue. I agree with that. That is something that needs to be made a priority to address issues. There should be an aquaculture standard and a standard for fish. In a way, that would make this moot. Some comments that we shouldn’t bother at all with this and fast track the aquaculture standard. CROPP Valley said they support Option 2, but would much rather buy organic fish oil that is organically approved. Perhaps that is something the Program should hear and listen to. The 3rd parties that we really considered – GSSI and ISEAL – are pretty clear. There were public comments submitted by the Marine Sustainability on this issue. If we look at wild caught seafood sustainability programs that are covered under these two – covers many areas of the world and many fisheries – and addresses many issues of sustainability. Also cover fair trade and some other issues. I know there is discussion on how we include fair working conditions for workers, and these two incorporate some of this. There is one other issue that I wanted to address. There has been some confusion about the source from byproduct only. Want to emphasize the difference between bycatch and byproduct. Bycatch – harvesting of marine organisms that were not the intent – dolphins, turtles. The intent is to use only byproduct. Fish oil would not be coming from/sourced from marine organisms that were harvested specifically for fish oil. About 25% of the fish oil out there is already produced from byproduct, and that’s a good thing, and we do not want to harvest specifically for an additive to food within organic. Would prefer we use byproduct not primary catch. Bycatch is non-target species. So, the intent of this we would be sourcing from byproduct—what’s left over after primary purpose of fish harvest was complete.
Wood Turner: I am not sure that the byproduct/bycatch description you gave is crystal clear—can you make it more concise. Other issue: this is challenging; this is an imperfect solution. I get uncomfortable with the idea that what we link what we are doing to other standards. The Inerts process shows how that can go sideways. But I’ve gotten comfy with this over the course of our discussion.
Asa Bradman: Respond to definition issue. Fall 2020 we were talking about liquid fish, NOC reiterated some of the definitions. According to the MSA bycatch is well defined as what we are using (mistakenly killed animals)., Byproduct is the material that is left over after purpose-use of fish.
Brian Caldwell: Sounded like there was a statistic 20-26% of the fish oil is sourced from industry byproduct. Does that mean then 74% of current fish oil would not be allowed?
Asa Bradman: Yes. That statistic was from 5-6 years ago.
Amy Bruch: Question: Challenges can arise when org regulations are linked to folks outside of NOP jurisdiction (comment referenced EPA listings). Your thoughts when applied to this particular area?
Asa Bradman: That’s a real issue. Originally NOAA and UN versus EPA, which is within the US gov’t and there are still issues. Here we are relying on non-profit 3rd party system and I think that does raise issues. There will have to be ongoing oversight of these issues. Sunset is every 5 years and there will be ongoing evaluation. Fortunately, there may be organic fish and at some point this could sunset and required to use organic fish. Concern of harvest from wild environments and put into organic system; there is a plus to using external validation when the complexity of the issue is beyond what is handleable by the NOP.
Kyla Smith: A little more on that point, to me, it is somewhat similar but a little different than the listing. There are referencing the certification schemes, so the whole scheme would have to go away, versus just having a list go away. Is that how anyone else is interpreting this, as well? It says “sourced as sustainable by a 3rd party to these things.” The standards could change, but it just has to be certified to this other scheme.
Steve Ela: To that point, you are saying this is an okay listing because of that?
Kyla Smith: Seems less risky in my opinion.
Steve Ela: And they could change and we would still reference them, unlike List 3 or 4.
Kyla Smith: Right.
Steve Ela: We’ve gotten burned enough by referring to outside sources that I’m hesitant, but on the other hand I do not see much other solution on this. NOP is not going to certify fisheries by any stretch of the imagination. I know that there were several Board members that wouldn’t have voted to renew the sunset on fish oil if there wasn’t going to be some annotation on it. I think that Lisa De Lima was the most adamant, and I respect that. There were others, as well.
Motion to accept the proposed fish oil annotation as written in the proposal. Motion by: Asa Bradman; Seconded by: Kyla Smith. Yes: 14 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion passes.
1:25 PM ET: Handling Subcommittee (HS), Sunset Material Reviews
Reference: §205.605(a). Technical Report: 1995 TAP; 2011 TR . Past NOSB Actions: 04/1995 NOSB minutes and vote; 11/2007 recommendation; 05/2012 recommendation; 11/2016 recommendation . Recent Regulatory Background: National List amended 10/31/2003 (68 FR 61987); Sunset renewal notice effective 11/03/13 (78 FR 61154); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347). Sunset Date: 5/29/2023 .Kim Huseman: Comments were – handful – very similar to the spring. Agar has been used for many years as a food additive. Versatile ingredient that there is not an organic alternative for. Compatible with organic principles. There is one mention that this should potentially be a Work Agenda item. The manufacturing process can be a synthetic or nonsynthetic form. As it is listed, it is listed as nonsynthetic. It has to do with the type of species of algae that is used and should be taken in to consideration. However, looking at the way it is listed today and the entities that are using it, there is overwhelming support for it to be relisted. I do think that at some point in time we should look at the listing from a synthetic to a nonsynthetic and the way it is produced, but today I support the relisting as it is written.
Steve Ela: To your point, I think that is important. We ran into that with AE with two different possibilities. I think the assumption is that if it is listed as nonsynthetic, we would reject the synthetic form, but it’s always good to be clear about that.
Motion to remove agar-agar from the National List Motion by: Kim Huseman; Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to Remove from National List Fails.
Reference: §205.605(a) Animal enzymes – (Rennet – animals derived; Catalase – bovine liver; Animal lipase; Pancreatin; Pepsin; and Trypsin). Technical Report: 2000 TAP; 2011 TR; 2015 Limited Scope TR (ancillary substances in enzymes) . Past NOSB Actions: 11/2000 meeting minutes and vote; 11/2007 recommendation; 12/2011 recommendation; 11/2016 recommendation . Recent Regulatory Background: National List amended 11/03/2003 (68 FR 62215); Sunset renewal notice effective 11/03/2013 (78 FR 61154); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347). Sunset Date: 5/29/2023 Kim Huseman: Again, had handful of Fall comments, similar to comments from Spring. Animal enzymes are used for organic cheese production; very vital in specific cheese production. Include rennet – animals derived; Catalase – bovine liver; Animal lipase; Pancreatin; Pepsin; and Trypsin. The TR that was conducted focused on rennet, and there was a comment that other enzymes were not covered. There is a push to find/utilize organic animal enzymes. But there are voices stating that organic is not commercially available as it stands today. Would encourage stakeholders to put more time and effort into–but to delineate organic vs. non-organic animal enzymes does not have the buy in today. This is a vital ingredient for organic cheese.
Motion to remove animal enzymes from the National List Motion by: Kim Huseman; Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to Remove from National List Fails.
Calcium sulfate mined
Reference: §205.605(a) . Technical Report: 1996 TAP; 2001 TAP . Petition(s): 2000 . Past NOSB Actions: 09/1996 meeting minutes and vote; 11/2007 recommendation; 05/2012 recommendation; 11/2016 recommendation . Recent Regulatory Background: National List amended 11/03/2003 (68 FR 62215); Sunset renewal notice effective 11/03/2013 (78 FR 61154); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347). Sunset Date: 5/29/2023 Wood Turner: For a mined material that is used in tofu manufacturing as a coagulant. It can have other uses, as well. This is generally considered to be a largely essential product, although the listing does not get as many comments as other materials and tends to have somewhat similar uses as GDL. Community generally supports relisting. I have flagged that this is produced from mined materials and is mined in places that may be considered to be from sensitive areas – Grand Staircase in UT. I’m concerned about not just the mining of this product, but mining impacts in general. Not recommending that we currently remove it from the list, but urge the community to continue to bring forward any information about impacts of mining about these products and any other.
Motion to remove calcium sulfate-mined from the National List Motion by: Wood Turner; Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to Remove from National List Fails.
Glucono delta lactone
Reference: §205.605(a) Glucono delta-lactone—production by the oxidation of D-glucose with bromine water is prohibited. Technical Report: 2002 TAP; 2016 TR . Petition(s): 2002 . Past NOSB Actions: 09/2002 meeting minutes and vote; 11/2007 recommendation; 05/2012 recommendation; 11/2016 recommendation . Recent Regulatory Background: National List amended 11/03/2003 (68 FR 62215); Sunset renewal notice effective 11/03/2013 (78 FR 61154); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347) . Sunset Date: 5/29/2023 Wood Turner: Another material used in the production of tofu – thought to be the only material for its particular use. GRAS, with no risk to human health or environmental health. This originally came on the list out of a petition for coagulation of tofu. There is some ongoing interested in annotating this material, suggesting that there is somehow other ways to get the same characteristic that I described, but limited support. Lots of support from certifiers and stakeholders for continuing to relist. We continue to ask questions of the community to better understand this more broadly, but general support from the community.
Motion to remove glucono delta-lactone from the National List Motion by: Wood Turner; Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove fails.
Reference: §205.605(a). Technical Report: 1995 TAP; 2011 TR; 2016 Limited Scope TR . Past NOSB Actions: 04/1995 NOSB minutes and vote; 11/2007 recommendation; 05/2012 recommendation; 11/2016 recommendation . Recent Regulatory Background: National List amended 10/31/2003 (68 FR 61987 – misspelled as ‘carageenan’); Sunset renewal notice effective 11/03/2013 (78 FR 61154); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347). Sunset Date: 5/29/2023.Jerry D’Amore: I do see similarities with fish oil and agar agar and the complexity around marine products. Food additive used as emulsifier, gelling agent, etc. Mostly in meat and dairy sources. It is GRAS by FDA. Manufactured by heating edible red algae in alkaline solution. Most of seaweed for product is from China or Philippines. CA accepts it as food additive. Japan accepts it in dairy only. IFOAM accepts it as food additive. CODEX accepts it as food additive in plant-based, dairy products, and dairy subs. Environmental issues: left unchecked algae farming can be harmful for nearby habitat, like coral reefs. It would be difficult to control good farming practices because it comes from overseas. It is profitable to farm on small scale giving rise to many operations. Environmental pluses: seaweed aquaculture can be beneficial (when in deep waters with sandy bottoms), buffer wave action, stabilize pH, form of food production that has no chemical inputs or use water. Human health concerns: early studies showed potential, subsequent studies showed these early studies were flawed and could not replicate findings. JECFA Found Carrageenan was unlikely to be absorbed or have an effect on the gut. NOSB recommended previously to remove but NOP did not follow recommendation. For public responses: 8 comments in favor, 4 opposed, remaining 2 said it was not used in their community. Many form letters cited health concerns. IFAC provided thorough comment that noted that many products were newly-launched containing carrageenan. Do not know the breakdown between conventional and organic. Initial indications are that there are good number that are organic.
Mindee Jeffrey: One commenter said that most commercially available sources are synthetic. I would like it if someone in certification would walk me though that. In this listing as a nonsynthetic allowed – are we allowing synthetic? I am confused by that.
Kyla Smith: As it is listed as a non-synthetic I would assume that MROs and certifiers are looking at manufacturing process and are limiting it to only non-synthetic. I know several comments asked us to look at the classification, that is something HS can look up. That is part of the process for material review.
Mindee Jeffrey: This is a tough on. I talk to customers about it a lot in the retail landscape and feel the pain on all sides of it. It is uncomfortable with me no matter what way it goes. I am curious about other people’s feelings on relisting, work agenda item for reclassification, and possibly annotating for narrow uses where we might be able to make graceful compromises in the dissonance.
Nate Powell-Palm: I wanted to upvote what Mindee said. Hearing public comments that there are concerns about the health effects of the material, but also that it is used a lot and we do not have really clear information about the science.
Asa Bradman: Looking for input. With this compound, previous NOSb voted to remove. There is a certain principle that when a Board made a recommendation, I feel compelled to respect that recommendation. Concern about political process where a recommendation does not get incorporated and then 5 years later different people don’t maintain that. Should remain consistent out of respect. The assertion that as a processing aid it can be unlabeled—notion concerns me. [Similar to celery powder, but that’s a labeled ingredient.] There is a lot of consumer opposition to this. We have a consumer seat on the Board—there is a tension between consumer trends and scientific issues, perhaps we have to respect consumer views. But other people might say consumers have mob rule. But there is a history with this and the consumer view deserves respect.
Jerry D’Amore: Just got on chat a comment – how can we dismiss form letters – no equal treatment to members to the public. I try to avoid that. I’ve enumerated it as well over 50 with citing human health concerns. I respect the rebuttal.
Steve Ela: While the public can use the chat, we would not allow comments to the Board in chat. Caution the Board form using those comments. Suggest not paying attention to chat.
Jerry D’Amore: Asa’s point – as an ingredient, it would have to be on the label, but in other contexts, it wouldn’t. That is a concern.
Brian Caldwell: I am one of the consumer/public interest seats and I do take those comments quite seriously. We did see another article/research summary that indicated that there still were health questions raised by health questions raised by research. A literature review—these are valuable for us to use. Second, seem to be a lot of disputes about how the levels of contaminates/secondary compounds in carrageenan products, and some of them are quite clearly toxic. That is another issue/question. Wanting to lean down on side of public safety and consumer confidence.
Jerry D’Amore: What was the date on the referenced publication?: And who were the cited contributors.
Brian Caldwell: That is a great question. I am going to have to…
Jerry D’Amore: It was rhetorical. On top of that, who were the cited contributors? I read it. It was a really well-balanced piece, but it was from 2018, which is not ancient, and there were references to the folks that have been involved all along. That is not to minimize it.
Brian Caldwell: I am looking at it here. 2018 is correct. I am not familiar with any of the authors. It did specifically respond to the claim that some of these studies had been refuted because they couldn’t be replicated.
Jerry D’Amore: You have honed in: for me two of the major points – labeling and human health concerns. You could spend a career on human health concerns. The labeling and the human health concerns are last 5 years, things have been softened by overall opinion; It is my opinion that they have not been softened by the editors but by overall interpretation.
Mindee Jeffery: I spent about a year talking to Good Health consumers about this and we were able to talk our consumers through this and help them find the transparency they needed. I really respect the fact that PCC has a prohibition on the ingredient and their customers support that. There is a lot of dialogue going on in the retail landscape around this one. I appreciate how much manufacturers have worked on this one. I want to get it right. I want to work on if we can limit from an invisible processing aid. I don’t know if that’s possible, but in the grand scheme of compromise, I am willing to work on it.
Kyla Smith: I think that this material is the one I am struggling the most with. Human health concerns, past Board vote, the fact that it still seems to be used for specific functionalities. Perhaps we could come to a compromise that would satisfy everyone. Really struggling with this one.
Sue Baird: I sat in when this was reviewed last time in St. Louis, MO. The passion that we heard from the consumers at that NOSB meeting was incredible, with most of the consumers stating we do not want it. I haven’t seen quite that passion this time, but I’m not on that committee, so perhaps I just haven’t heard the feedback. It is a conflict of who puts out the health report – some say yes, it has health issues, and others say no – these reports are not vetted through the scientific world and perhaps not valid. There has been a lot of confusion on how it should be listed. Yet there are processors who say they need this product. I am so torn on this. I was 5 years ago, and now we hear the same confusion and passion from those who say it causes health issues to those that say that’s not true at all.
Jerry D’Amore: Between the last 3 comments, I think we have focused on the dilemma, and one of the things that I didn’t highlight this time around, which may have been an oversight, are those areas where there are truly distinct, unique, better-than functionality. I am gravitating toward the annotations being talked about – valid – human health concerns and labeling aspect. I thank you all for your comments there.
Carolyn Dimitri: Stunned conversation in going on so long. And that we are considering re-listing under certain conditions something the previous Board de-listed. There is no way I would vote to put this back on the list. If the NOP decides to ignore what we say that’s a different story.
Jerry D’Amore: A settled deal in so far as they do not think it will be carried forward by this group?
Carolyn Dimitri: No, in that consumers probably don’t think it’s being used. The Board voted on it and in the consumer mind that could settle the whole issue.
Jerry D’Amore: I would like to have the NOSB/NOP discussion sometime. I do not think we are ignored.
Steve Ela: I agree with Carolyn on this. For me, I want to hear that if we are going to change what a previous Board has said, I want to hear compelling comments about why their decision was incorrect. I guess I haven’t seen enough evidence – if it comes back wishy-washy, then I tend to err on the side of caution and agree with the previous Board. On the essentiality side, so many manufacturers dropped it out of their products in response to the previous Board…not everyone did, and I respect that. We so cautiously add things to the NL, and we so infrequently want to delist them NL. Are there other alternatives? That comes back to essentiality…how many manufacturers quit using it, and then I say there are availability of alternatives. Jerry, I think you mentioned IFAC with the # of products coming on the marktet, I think it is important to know how many were conventional versus organic – I have a hard time taking that # at face value. I have not seen compelling evidence to go against that recommendation by the Board. In fact, I saw from public comments, to please take it off. And on the letter writing, it may all say the same thing, but how many consumers took the time to let us know about something.
Jerry D’Amore: I can’t agree more with the last comment you made. Throw out there: distinction between essentiality and functionality. The people to removed carrageenan, there is no wonder with that vote. Yes, there are substitutes, but they are nowhere near as good.
Nate Powell-Palm: Hoping to pose to program is they had anything to say about why it didn’t go to rulemaking with last recommendation by NOSB?
Kyla Smith: I know what they said and can repeat that, but do not know the decision-making that led to that final result. It was explained that they did a review of the public comment and there was sufficient evidence from that that carrageenan continued to be necessary from the unavailability of substitutes. What l’d like to hear is why they didn’t do a proposed rule to solicit that – that would have been what I expected, but that wasn’t what happened, so I don’t know why they didn’t do that.
Devon Patello: I don’t know if I would have anything to add apart from what was in the notice when we renewed it.
Erin: We can have Jenny chime in when she gets back online.
Steve Ela: Do we want to move forward.
Motion to remove carrageenan from the National List Motion by: Jerry D’Amore; Seconded by: Kyla Smith. Yes: 9 (Wood, Sue, Asa, Amy, Brian, Carolyn, Rick, Kim, Steve) No: 5 (Mindee, Logan, Nate, Kyla, Jerry) Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from the National List fails.
[COMMENT: In a discouraging vote, NOSB decided to keep carrageenan on the list of substances allowed in organic food for another five years despite the additives controversy, known health impacts, and the inability for it to be completely avoided in organic food (since it need not always appear on labels). The outcome vote conflicts with an earlier decision: the 2016 NOSB which recommended removing carrageenan on the heels of increasing organic stakeholder pressure — including a Cornucopia petition with over 40,000 signatures. In 2018, the NOP, led by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, overruled that recommendation, stating that it “found sufficient evidence in public comments to the NOSB that carrageenan continues to be necessary for handling agricultural products because of the unavailability of wholly natural substitutes.” (To learn more, read the history of our efforts to remove carrageenen from organic food.) Cornucopia’s updated Buyer’s Guide to Avoiding Carrageenan in Organic Food shows that carrageenan is not needed. Countless brands have reformulated their products to remove carrageenan. Regulatory change is slow, and the public process is troubled since it appears the the NOSB did not consider certain public comments or the factual data they presented at all. Cornucopia’s work at NOSB meetings and with the National Organic Program is critical over the long haul. We are committed.]
Reference: §205.605(a) Tartaric acid – made from grape wine. Technical Report: 2011 TR. Petition(s): 2011 Petition to remove from §205.605(b) – made from malic acid. Past NOSB Actions: NOSB meeting review 11/1995; 11/2005 recommendation; 12/2011 recommendation; 11/2016 recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: National List amended 10/31/2003 (68 FR 61987); Sunset renewal notice effective 11/03/2013 (78 FR 61154); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347). Sunset Date: 5/29/2023.Steve Ela: Made from grape wine and used in a number of ways, primarily as a pH adjuster. Comments really ask whether an organic supply exist – enough organic grapes in the market at this point. As several people noted, kind of a chicken and egg situation. The only way to make a necessity for this is to not allow nonorganic grapes be used. MISSED SOME HERE. Is there potentially an adequate organic supply available? Could be, but from what I understand, not now. I do not know what the lag time would be to get an organic supply. I suspect it would be enough to be disruptive if we removed it. I tend to fall on the side of essentiality that it is still needed because there isn’t an adequate organic supply. I would really like to know more if there could be an adequate organic supply.
Kyla Smith: There are several items on 205.605(a) that have that commercial availability forms/substitutes if they are available. A commenter wrote in about applying commercial availability more broadly to 605(a), and I find that interesting, and there are several things we are talking about today that I think lends themselves to this thinking.
Steve Ela: We would need regulatory change to do that, right?
Kyla Smith: Yes.
Motion to remove tartaric acid from the National List. Motion by: Steve Ela; Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 13 Abstain: 0 Absent: 1 (Wood) Recuse: 0. Motion to remove fails.
Reference: §205.605(b) Cellulose (CAS #9004-34-6)—for use in regenerative casings, powdered cellulose as an anti-caking agent (non-chlorine bleached) and filtering aid. Microcrystalline cellulose is prohibited. Technical Report: 2001 TAP; 2016 TR. Petition(s): 2001. Past NOSB Actions: 10/2001 meeting minutes and vote; 11/2007 recommendation; 05/2012 recommendation; 11/2016 recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: National List amended 11/03/2003 (68 FR 62215); Sunset renewal notice effective 11/03/2013 (78 FR 61154); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347); Annotation change effective 12/27/2019 (83 FR 66559). Sunset Date: 11/03/2023 Carolyn Dimitri: Noncontroversial material. Fall comments echo spring comments. People that use it find it extremely important. One commenter said there were adverse effects of production and nonessential. Overall support for relisting.
Motion to remove cellulose from the National List at §205.605(b) Motion by: Kyla Smith; Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 13 Abstain: 0 Absent: 1 (Wood) Recused: 0. Motion to remove fails.
2:30 PM ET: Lunch Break
3:30 PM ET: Handling Subcommittee (HS), Sunset Material Review (Cont.)
Chlorine materials – Calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, Hypochlorous acid generated from electrolyzed water, sodium hypochlorite
Reference: §205.601(a) – As algicide, disinfectants, and sanitizer, including irrigation system cleaning systems. (2) Chlorine materials -For pre-harvest use, residual chlorine levels in the water in direct crop contact or as water from cleaning irrigation systems applied to soil must not exceed the maximum residual disinfectant limit under the Safe Drinking Water Act, except that chlorine products may be used in edible sprout production according to EPA label directions. Technical Report(s): 1995 TAP; 2006 TR; 2011 TR. Past NOSB Actions: 10/1995 NOSB minutes and vote; 04/2006 NOSB sunset recommendation; 04/2011 NOSB sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation Recent Regulatory Background: Added to National List 2/20/2001 (65 FR 80547), Sunset renewal notice 3/21/2017 (82 FR 14420); Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577). Sunset Date: 10/30/2024 Asa Bradman: I’ve said all the things I’ve wanted to say – to say it one more time, I feel like there’s a lot of great comments in the public comments this fall and last spring. Some of the suggestions from NOC and OTA are really good. NOPWC – need for a special place in the national list for disinfectants. Advocate for a work agenda to deal with this. Specific to these substances which we’ve discussed many times. Essential for complying with food safety issues. Raise occupational and environmental health concerns. Not a lot of monitoring in occupational environments. I’ve argued based on anecdotal evidence that we should do better experiments to analyze exposure and risk. I know from personal experience that I’ve been in environment where they’ve been used. Some cases are okay, others where people have experienced long term damages.
Asa Bradman: For things that are on the list, some of our discussions are theoretical about things on the list. There are two sanitizers that are being petitioned right now. CPC, which is a quaternary ammonia, which would be a whole new class of sanitizer on the list, and the proposed use is dipping for chicken carcasses. The other is peroxycetic acid. This is going to be an ongoing issue, and in the next two months there are two that are going to be evaluated, and all of us should be thinking about that.
Amy Bruch: Are they being petitioned for all of the different categories?
Asa Bradman: Quats are being petitioned specifically for chicken carcass dip. The other is for meat wash for packaging.
Motion to remove Calcium hypochlorite from the National List Motion: Asa Bradman; Seconded by Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 13 Abstain: 0 Absent: 1 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from National List fails.Motion to remove chlorine dioxide from the National List Motion: Asa Bradman; Seconded by Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 13 Abstain: 0 Absent: 1 Recuse: 0.Motion to remove from National List fails.Motion to remove Hypochlorous acid generated from electrolyzed water from the National List Motion: : Asa Bradman; Seconded by Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 13 Abstain: 0 Absent: 1 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from National List fails.Motion to remove sodium hypochlorite from the National List Motion: Asa Bradman; Seconded by Jerry D’Amore. Yes: 0 No: 13 Abstain: 0 Absent: 1 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove from National List fails.
Reference: §205.605(b) Potassium hydroxide – prohibited for use in lye peeling of fruits and vegetables except when used for peeling peaches. Technical Report: 2001 TAP; 2016 TR . Petition(s): 2001 petition; 2011 petition to amend annotation. Past NOSB Actions: 10/1995 meeting minutes and vote; 11/2005 recommendation; 12/2011 recommendation; 11/2016 recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Added to the National list 12/21/2000 (65 FR 80548); National List amended 11/03/2003 (68 FR 62215); National List amended 05/28/2013 (78 FR 31815); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347). Sunset Date: 5/29/2023.Steve Ela: This material is used in a variety of ways – pH control, thickener, poultry scald. It is prohibited in use of lye peeling of veggies, except for peaches. We did have a comment that said that peeling of peaches could be done mechanically at this point. Comments noted that they are widely used and widely needed, but another commenter noted they are one of the most hazardous materials on the NL. Human health issues of burning upon dermal contact and eyes. While it is widely used and needed, there are issues with it. There is some question of whether or not it is still needed for peeling peaches. For the other uses, it is still needed. It is also used for extraction of other materials, essentially as a processing aid. Main thing: it is still widely used and generally people are in favor of re-listing but very strong note of its hazardous and toxic effects and it would be very nice to have an alternative. No additional discussion or questions.
Motion to remove potassium hydroxide from the National List. Motion by: Steve Ela; Seconded by: Asa Bradman. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove fails.
Reference: §205.605(b) Potassium lactate – for use as an antimicrobial agent and pH regulator only. Technical Report: 2015 TR. Petition(s): 2004; 2014 NOP memo to NOSB. Past NOSB Actions: 4/2016 recommendation.Recent Regulatory Background: Added to NL effective 1/28/2019 (83 FR 66559). Sunset Date: 1/28/2024 Jerry D’Amore: Would like to make an acknowledgement: challenged by NOC regarding screening of comments during spring comments. Public comments during fall session 9: 2 opposed to re-listing citing synthetic nature, 3 supported re-listing, remaining not for or against. Potassium and sodium lactate under review here, but the focus is on potassium. Comes as a liquid and may be added to meat as an anti-microbial. FDA does not authorize it’s use in formula or food. Considering international acceptance: CA: they are not listed for use in processing, but lactic acid the precursor substance is allowed; EU: not permitted in food service and processing, but lactic acid is allowed; IFOAM: both substances are not specifically listed but lactic acid is allowed. JAS: they are not listed, not permitted. No human health concerns in the 2015 TR. No comments or questions.
Motion to remove potassium lactate from the National List Motion by: Jerry D’Amore; Seconded by: Steve Ela. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove fails.
Reference: §205.605(b) Silicon dioxide – Permitted as a defoamer. Allowed for other uses when organic rice hulls are not commercially available. Technical Report: 1996 TAP; 2010 TR . Petition(s): 2010 petition to remove. Past NOSB Actions: 09/1996 minutes and vote; 11/2005 recommendation; 12/2011 recommendation; 11/2016 recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Added to NL 12/21/2000 (65 FR 80548); National list amended 05/28/2013 (effective 11/03/2013) (78 FR 31815); Sunset renewal notice effective 5/29/2018 (83 FR 14347). Sunset Date: 5/29/2023.Kyla Smith: Used as anti-caking agent, defoamer, etc. For all uses except for defoaming a commercial avail search is required. Wide support across stakeholders; a few took no position but asked we take a look at the annotation. Concern that the annotation does not meet the original intent. Since we can’t change annotations at sunset—we can ask for work agenda item on that. Suggestion to limit commercial avail search to only things labeled as organic and not “made with organic” (like how yeast is annotated).
Steve Ela: On the change of the annotation, how important do you think this is for silicon dioxide?
Kyla Smith: It was suggested by OTCO. It is how yeast is annotated. It is not codified, but the general understanding for flavors, and there was one other noted in that bunch, as well. For consistency sake in looking at commercial availability and how it applies to the different categories, I’m not sure. I do not have any specific data on if this is hanging up products or anything.
Steve Ela: I would suggest to the Board that there are a bunch of these that come up that are technical corrections or annotation changes. Those that are responsible for them, I encourage you bringing it up to the subcommittee and decide if you want to pursue it. These can be quick and not all that controversial, although some may be. We quite frequently forget to do this, so I wanted to provide a reminder.
Motion to remove silicon dioxide from the National List Motion by: Kyla Smith; Seconded by: Kim Huseman. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove fails.
Reference: §205.605(b) Sodium lactate – for use as an antimicrobial agent and pH regulator only. Technical Report: 2015 . Petition(s): 2004; 2014 NOP memo to NOSB. Past NOSB Actions: 4/2016 recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Added to NL effective 1/28/2019 (83 FR 66559). Sunset Date: 1/28/2024.Jerry D’Amore: This material is virtually the same as potassium lactate, which I already went over. This is for use as an antimicrobial agent and pH regulator only. No further questions or comments.
Motion to remove sodium lactate from the National List Motion by: Jerry D’Amore; Seconded by: Kim Huseman. Yes: 0 No: 14 Abstain: 0 Absent: 0 Recuse: 0. Motion to remove fails.
Update on Ion Exchange Resins
Kyla Smith: Ion Exchange – Brief verbal update – as you remember, during Spring Board passed ion exchange approval and asked NOP to report back to us on the progress made. NOP responded to the full Board with a memo after their discussions with FDA. After this meeting, HS will determine next steps based on this memo. Progress is being made, and I wanted to share that with all stakeholders for transparency.
4:00 PM ET: Compliance, Accreditation, and Certification Subcommittee (CACS)
Nate Powell-Palm:Spent a lot of work on human capital and there have been invigorating updates from NOP on this component in the form of an RFA. Shoutout to Sue on paper she wrote in the Spring. We have two papers to discuss today.
Proposal – Letter to Secretary Vilsack regarding USDA Climate Change Initiatives
Carolyn Dimitri: Short background on our thinking as this letter came through. USDA has a long history of supporting farm income and providing incentives to the ag sector that has made food in the USA extremely inexpensive. As we know, the external cost of food production are very high. Environmental degradation, biodiversity loss due to synthetic use, and GHG emissions, which contribute to climate change are some of the biggest ones. It is unreasonable to expect anyone in the private sector to tackles these. From a social welfare perspective, the private sector will not push us as far as we need to go. USDA recognition of climate-smart agriculture was important and inspired this letter. We strove to be concise and needed the letter to be short. We relied directly upon scientific peer-reviewed literature. We did our best to avoid advocating for any specific position. Appreciate the comments from stakeholders and incorporated as many of these as we could fit into the letter. Primary goal is to remind USDA that organic farming is important for climate change solutions. We did not want [to get left behind and wanted to push for agriculture that] really strives to consider the agro-ecosystem in every part of production.
Amy Bruch: Thank you, Carolyn. It’s important to highlight the organic industries inputs. Supporting new and better markets – we are a $60+B industry, but transitional markets are very important. Costly to transition to organic. Expanding market opportunities for these rotational crops. Some of the rotations that farmers are choosing because it is the right thing to plant to improve the nutritional content in our soil, but they have very limited outlets. The second point in the proposal was leveraging existing USDA programs. Highlighting programs to have more stakeholder input and evaluate risk-management for organic farmers. We deploy many different operations, such as intercropping, roller crimping, that sometimes go against us when we are trying to get coverage. Actuary data [needs to be understood]. More risks organic production take on and more attention should be paid attention to them.
Asa Bradman: Comment on reference how the food system encourages cheap food and therefore does not incorporate externalities into the price. Organic does incorporate some of those externalities and costs more; extra price we pay is good for environment and the people paying for that food. Other side is inaccessibility; we have big income inequality. Lots of ppl that don’t have the money. Access is not there even if it serves higher goal. Need to consider how we approve accessibility. Farmers markets and SNAP and food support (for example).
Nate Powell-Palm: I am really hoping we can make that a work agenda item this next round. Brilliant point.
Asa Bradman: As an example, I worked in the Salinas Valley for many years. We find participants in our studies as much as 20-40% with food insecurity, and in many cases these are farmers, producing the food that we eat. Unequal access to food.
Jerry D’Amore: Caroly, it has taken me to reach the age of 72 to have the opportunity to give praise to a professor – it has never happened to me before. I thought the work was very well done and message sport on. I would like to support fully your comment to the cost of food. I spend 35 years of my life supporting the family overseas and I’m really familiar with the cost of food – measured by 10, 20, 30% more expensive. Disposable income that goes to food has been in every place that I’ve lived – they do not even come close to what we can do with our dollar in terms of food. I’m tempted to tie that in with Asa’s comments because it is apropos. I caution everyone not to get a leaning out of me from what I am going to say in terms of social politics and all. In those same countries, there is a safety net that mitigates some of this. I’m talking about countries where healthcare is already taken care of. I consider Asa’s point to be a double whammy for us. I have wondered if there are long-term implications to the NOSB as to what we might be called upon for criteria for evaluation – are we simply positioning ourselves as “already there” on a lot of things – which I think is accurate – or are we going to seek the position of actually making some of our decisions on the friendliness of what we are already doing for climate change?
Carolyn Dimitri: Jerry in my view what I’d like to see NOSB do is support larger visionary ideas organic represents. Materials and the sunsets—all important—but it seems to dominate work agenda. Not everything, the BBM brought into some of these questions for example. I want to not lose sight of health of our plant and people. Organic can contribute to our food supply by damaging our planet less. The social issues are important but OFPA does not incorporate social justice, don’t know where that leaves us. The use of the word “food insecurity” makes us forget there are people behind it. Think that organic food does cost more but I don’t think that should hold us back. Maybe embolden us to improve our social policies. These things are on my wish list.
Jerry D’Amore: Thank you. I could not find argument with anything that you said. I would welcome at a later date greater conversation on this. I see the organic seal as very special. I know it is a seal that many would like to have as an umbrella, and I have sometimes thought that we are too giving of having that umbrella becoming available. That was a lot said with no depth. I am agreeing with everything that you’ve said and would enjoy hearing a lot more.
Sue Baird: This is such an important topic. Climate change initiatives and pointing out the importance of organic food, carbon sequestration, etc. All of these points are important. I agree that social justice is not part of OFPA. We missed that point. IFOAM has it written in their standard. We never got that far. We need to catch up. I guess Asa, and now Jerry, have been brought to my heart what I have been focusing on. My focus has been in insecurity in foods. I commend you, Jerry. I am there in those downtown “urban kids” who have never seen anything but a 7/11. Literally, some of them. They live on concrete until they go to prison, and then they go out and they are on concrete. The fact that she cannot buy an organic farm is a given because they cannot buy a conventional farm. I think we have to do something about that. It has become a real passion in my life. I would hope that whoever is going to carry on this after I leave would add social justice. I know that NOC has been an advocate, mainly for the colored sector, but I think we need to think about those urban kids.
Nate Powell-Palm: Rural kids too—rare to find these foods in rural areas too. In organic community we are so surrounded by organic we forget it’s a real privileged. Organic is a real luxury still in some places. It should be a goal of the community to make it available to everyone and not just a premium product.
Mindee Jeffrey: The work here is so amazing, and I’m so appreciative of it. For me, we have so far to go and so many areas around social justice, but being a part of USDA, it is a transparent, consensus-based democracy, and that is progress.
Sue Baird: Maybe Mindee articulated what I was feeling. It would be incredible – we have cost share for organic farmers – we are dreaming here right now – what if we proposed some cost share for a way for organic foods to get into schools?
Nate Powell-Palm: The Farm Bill is coming up, I hear, and I hear a Sue Project right here.
Sue Baird: I could be compelled to do some of that work because it is my passion. Farm to school table is incredible to get food into school.
Jerry D’Amore: What we are talking about here is equity: who can afford what. The coming together/feeding the world with organic systems is a heavy but worthwhile life.
Steve Ela: Carolyn this is a great example of your contribution to the Board. Thank you for using the open docket, which we haven’t been good at. Good on ya! Motion to accept the proposal on the letter to the Secretary re: climate change initiatives Motion by: Nate Powell-Palm; Seconded by: Kyla Smith. Yes: 13 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Absent: 1 (Wood) Recuse: 0. Motion to accept the proposal on the letter to the Secretary re: climate change initiatives passes.
Oversight Improvements to Deter Fraud: Modernization of Organic Supply Chain Traceability Discussion Document
Amy Bruch: Thank you for the introduction. Nate, as a co-collaborator, feel free to jump in. I have a short presentation to walk through the initial background. Grateful to work on this important agenda item, especially the modernization of organic supply chain traceability. As discussed in the document there is a lot to celebrate with… The organic industry has exceeded 60 billion in sales. Participation for support and can do through the written and comments was invaluable. Today, we’ll work to summarize some of that feedback. We will digest the full comments in our subcommittee work. This slide shows the SOE 4 proposed concepts: In general, stakeholders were very supportive of the subcommittee’s proactive work. In terms of how to get there… was a wide range of comments that provided further One commenter supported the development of innovative strategies for inspectors and certifiers.
- IFOAM’s concept paper to successfully address the challenges of the 21st century
- Continuous improvement is the bedrock of organic…
There were several conscientious commenters, as well. Want us to keep in mind:
- The barriers: data collection is only one piece to fraud prevention.
- When we reflect, let’s consider both domestic and international considerations.
Mindee’s format – go through each question, summarize, and move on to the next question.
Brian Caldwell: Overall point: Amy, your first slide showed the inside of a warehouse somewhere. The images that I have in mind of organic farming are farmers market, food coops, CSAs, small farms. I just hope that whatever we come up with can be targeted where the problems are, and not hit everybody who isn’t part of the problem with extra burden.
Amy Bruch: This was unanimous across the stakeholder community: being aware of any additional burden across the supply chain. Targeting the risk management approach.
Jerry D’Amore: where do we envision this starting and stopping? Most of everything in between is regulated – we could dovetail this initiative with things that are already happening.
Amy Bruch: Great question. That is why we are proposing this discussion document. An exploratory process to get the right range of where the system needs to start and stop. What was mentioned in the DD was capturing those business-to-business transactions. That is really to get that bi-directional look back. Definitely, there is not a concrete form that we have – exploring options. There needs to be a system that can adapt to the uniqueness of every sector in the community.
Jerry D’Amore:If I could add to that: talk about cost to farmer, we understand that in terms of inputs and PNLS. Everything along field-to-fork if it goes wrong that too comes back to ranch. Big dilemma: the warehouse, the cold chain; if it’s not done right these costs come back to the rancher. If something is not sold—not your fault but still your problem.
Steve Ela: a bit of a time check – I don’t want to cut anybody off, but want to make sure we get this done in no more than 20 minutes.
Logan Petrey: On the transaction level, does that include brokers who have never touched the product?
Amy Bruch: Originally what we had in the discussion document was all business-to-business transaction, including brokers.
Nate Powell-Palm: augmentation and celebration of SOE – what actual tools do we need to adopt to make SOE?
Amy Bruch: We need to look at complex supply chains and brokers [and others] are part of that. Questions for Stakeholders:
- How can technology efficiently and effectively be deployed to enhance supply chain traceability?
Amy Bruch: There is some good benchmarking that we could do. Community offered some good avenues – FDA, EU communities that have organic traceability. That is a good step to look at barriers to implementation and what has been done prior. 2. What form does an organic link system (OLS) must take to be non-burdensome for organic stakeholders, including certifiers, inspectors, handlers, operations, importers, etc.? What forms does an organic system to not be burdensome. To stakeholders, certifiers, inspectors, importers etc? One idea – looking at existing ways this information is already being captured. AS farmers, we are capturing yields and reporting this information. Maybe reconciling RMA, FSA, that is not duplicating work but capturing work already being done. working across agency. Modifying organic system plans – one that is more static, one that is more dynamic.
Nate Powell-Palm: This is where I’m hoping the community sends us more idea, especially as far as data collection and data sharing. 3. What challenges exist with the implementation of an organic link system (OLS)?
Amy Bruch: That really gets after some of the burdens. Brian, to your comment, how do we block and tackle so this can be available to all people. A time/human capital cost, quality/accessibility of information. Some information in the discussion document gets to that. The point is to not overburden the industry but make things more efficient. 4. Is there value in AMS, certifiers, and inspectors getting more granular with transaction-level detail to gain transparency throughout the complex supply chain?
Amy Bruch: Gets after the community response—risk-based approach. Comments on hierarchy of risk could be accessed. Some information from ACA about what certifiers are using. Additional comments from board?
Nate Powell-Palm: The idea that we need data to have robust risk assessments and further figure out how we can flag fraud.
Kyla Smith: Some of the comments, in particular on the risk types of approach, which I liked as well. Also, the distinction between what we call the annual inspection and investigative type of inspection. Appreciated the call out in the comments of the two different types and granularity. You can apply it to the operation specifically, and also what activity you conduct at an operation.
Amy Bruch: I think that is good, and I’m going to throw that question back at you, Kyla, do you believe that data is needed or a small component of doing a risk assessment to make it more robust?
Kyla Smith: Yes, feel there is a good balance to not maybe have to go so deep at every inspection all the time—otherwise inspections are going—already are—going to be longer in some instances. Balance between time and depth.
Carolyn Dimitri: This is so fascinating, I appreciate all the work you did on this Amy. I want to caution people not to reinvent the wheel. There is a lot of literature on frequency of inspection to keep people from cheating. Have you had a chance to consult with experts in the area? There is a lot of economic experts who work on fraud prevention. There is a guy who works at AMS?? That could be helpful.
Amy Bruch: That would be great, and that is kind of phase 2 with this. We have received some initial feedback, but we are going to do a deeper dive and look at additional information. If you have some, that would be great. 5. What other methods exist for enhancing transparency?
Amy Bruch: the last 2 questions. Summarized comments; discussed further coordination between USDA and customs and borders. Expand scope of components of SOE. Imports certificates: getting aggregated operations data for what that import was (for grain for example; could be product from many operations in the vessel). Yield data domestically and internationally, to better aid mass balances that could take place.
Nate Powell-Palm: tacking on that… whatever other methods exist to increase transparency: what infrastructure exists, and how do we plug into that infrastructure. I think organic is so cool, because there is so much data via our OSP and record keeping. Putting that data in somewhat of a more shared format would be an awesome opportunity. 6. Are there additional areas that need to be considered for improvement to prevent fraud or react to fraud?
Kyla Smith: I think along with that is increasing inspector training around this topic and working on all of the things in regarding to auditing, but also developing soft skills, different approaches for different types of inspections. I know that PCO commented on this topic, and our comments had a lot to do with that. Sometimes fraud lives in between the data type of thing, and you have to use the data as a tool. You also really need highly qualified and trained inspectors who know what questions to ask, which threads to follow, and cooperation among certifiers.
Nate Powell-Palm: Hopefully something that will be somewhat addressed by the Human Capital projects that are coming. 7. Should the industry require the registration of land 36 months before certification?
Amy Burch: The comments on this one were the most mixed and diverse. In favor of it: Clarity is needed for consistency, could stabilize market, allows for better mass balancing, helps farmers understand what crops they may need to rotate into. Concerns: rented or leased grounds, barriers to entry, how will this be enforced?
Sue Baird: Actually, there is written into OFPA for transition, but it was never really implemented. There would be opportunity perhaps for marketing if the land was transitioned, but I think we’ve tried that and it hasn’t gone over well. If we required the land to be registered transition for 36 months, there are going to be more costs to the farmer, and they aren’t going to get any return for that cost. Perhaps if the NOP created a new Transition label, that might help to get a new market. In my world, most farmers who are grain farmers who are transitioning have sold their grain as non-GMO. They get a bit of premium for that. I think OFARM tried to get a little bit more premium to the farmer. It didn’t work. I do not think that we could ever require something that isn’t in the regulation, and I do not think that there is justification for the farmer to have to pay a registration if they are not going to get a return for that investment.
Jerry D’Amore: Spent years [trying Sue’s suggestion] with internationally recognized marketer. We could not garner value at retail for that effort.
Brian Caldwell: I think again from the consumer standpoint, here in central NY, a lot of land is sort of fallow or marginally in agriculture. To require a new farmer to register 3 years in advance, when there hasn’t been any input for the last 3 years and it’s ready to go, but they don’t know that this land is on the market. I get that the business to business is great to avoid the consumer, but we have to think about this really hard to hit the people who are not the target.
Nate Powell-Palm; Would you speak to the idea that the more data we have on transitioning land, the more confidence farmers have that there is an opportunity to get into organic. When folks are asking about transition, they are asking where they can send their soil samples to prove their fields are ready? On the whole, it’s a signed affidavit, and I feel for the farmers who are like, “You don’t need more than that? There’s not more to it than that?”
Amy Bruch: Sure. I appreciate, Brian, your comment and opinions in my area and a lot of farmers’ areas, we are transitioning grounds that had had prohibited substances on it. There are a lot of questions from the farmers to the process. It seems unofficial because you’re supposed to farm using organic practices, 36 months down the road you have a partnership with a certifier. Having an official start point, where you capture the last restricted used herbicide. Havin a little more rigor would help farmers transitioning, also getting a better pulse rate internationally of what will be showing up. We see large swings coming up in organic. Having a bit more of the runway, understanding the amount of acres that will be transitioning in the next few years. For the first organic – there are some requirements and deadlines to meet otherwise 48 months to transition.
Nate Powell Palmer: The only other thing I would add for this, it’s a call for information and ideas. It does not need to be prescriptive, but we want to solicit the best ideas out there to make this work.
Sue Baird: There are some reasons for some farmers to become registered transition – NRCS has 2 programs – CSP and EQUIP. If they register into those programs as transitioning into organic, they have some financial reason to transition.
Kyla Smith: [Missed beginning due to technical difficulties.] Keeping in mind this needs to be applied to all operations. We need to use our tools, whether that’s risk assessment or other, that apply to that operation.
Nate Powell-Palm: That is a great place to call it. That could be applied to a dozen other things that we’ve talked about today. How do we apply these ideas in a program that applies to operations both big and small?
Steve Ela: Not the end of the discussion by any means. Before we go to officer elections – good job to all the subcommittees. It’s long days, all the work that goes in is impressive.
Recognition of Outgoing Members
Jenny Tucker: As a process check—are we moving to farewells? I appreciate Steve’s comments today about not peeking at community texts at the meeting, but I do think there were a couple comments noting the collaborative deep conversation of the NOSB is appreciated. The process itself is democracy, social justice, collaboration—the tone members use with each other is a real tribute to what democracy can look like. Thank you for engaging in this thoughtful process. That leads into saying goodbye to the folks I first became familiar with when I started as deputy administrator. [Jenny describes meeting and interacting with the NOSB members leaving the Board, Sue Baird, Asa Bradmen, and Steve Ela.]
Steve Ela: With that, we are going to jump back to the agenda.
Steve Ela: Challenge in the virtual world. We have always honored that they are anonymous, and nobody other than the counters have known how many votes went to each officer. Results from the survey will come to Asa and Steve – we will see results and announce that, not the vote count at all. Everybody gets to vote, everybody gets one vote.
Steve Ela: Challenge in the virtual world. We have always honored that they are anonymous, and nobody other than the counters have known how many votes went to each officer. Results from the survey will come to Asa and Steve – we will see results and announce that, not the vote count at all. Everybody gets to vote, everybody gets one vote.
Nominations for NOSB Chair:
- Sue Baird nominates Carolyn Dimitri. Seconded by Kim Huseman. Carolyn withdraws because she feels she is too new.
- Mindee Jeffery nominates Nate Powell-Palm. Rick Greenwood seconds.
- Steve Ela nominates Rick Greenwood. Rick refuses and is withdrawn.
Only one nomination, Steve asks the board to accept Nate by unanimous consensus. Board accepts Nate Powell-Palm as Chair.
Nominations for Vice Chair:
- Nate would like to nominate Mindee Jeffery. seconded by Jerry D’Amore.
Only one nomination, Steve asks the board to accept Mindee by unanimous consensus. Board accepts Mindee Jeffery as Vice Chair.
Nominations for Secretary: Kyla Smith is Secretary after technical difficulties with the vote.
Work Agendas / Materials’ Update
Seve Ela: The container production item is still on the Work Agenda on hold; that was not taken off our Work Agenda. It is still there.
Sue: [Comment on organics being important. Save the children.] Asa: [Comment on concern about hydroponics and container, wishes he knew more when that was discussed before. Would suggest that there is a 10-year transition if hydro/containers operations are putting facilities on farmland/wild land to dis-incentivize it (similar to native ecosystems recommendation).] Steve: [Comment on value of NOSB and organic. Asks that we keep ecosystem and environmental services high in our thinking. Noted that his farm is near 0 carbon emissions, even with going to farmers’ markets 6 hours away; noted pride in this. Thanks others for the gifts.]