Information Release: Glickman puts NOSB in charge of the National List

EWerb at EWerb at
Thu Jul 23 01:46:48 PDT 1998

here's an update on the Organic Standards from our farmer friends:

Organic Farmers Marketing Association, Inc.
Communication/Telecommunication Committee
Eric Kindberg co-chair with Cissy Bowman

Further information from erorganic at
OMFA Website:


Secretary Glickman of the USDA holds a public meeting on the role of the
National Organic Standards Board.
Washington DC

An invitation to meet with Secretary Glickman and staff:

Keith Jones, Director of the USDA National Organic Program invited the
National Organic Standards Board members and the public attending the National
Organic Standards Board Meeting to meet with Secretary Glickman at the USDA's
Administration Building on Independence Ave. 3:30 PM, Wednesday, July 22.
Undersecretary Romminger, Assistant Secretary for Agricultural Marketing, Mike
Dunn and Regulatory Services and Enrique Figuereo Administrator of the
Agricultural Marketing Service were present along with other USDA staff.

Secretary Glickman indicated that it is evident from the number and wide
diversity of public comments received by the Department to the Proposed
Organic Rule that organic is a mainstream concern in the US.  The USDA is
prepared to view it as such.   

During the meeting, Secretary Glickman indicated the USDA is not concerned
about producing more corn and soybeans, but keeping more farmers farming.

In his statement, Secretary Glickman assured the attendees substances will be
considered by the Department for inclusion on the National List only if they
are a recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board after proper
petition, review and evaluation.  This is consistent with the language and
spirit of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) passed by the US Congress in

The Organic Farmers Marketing Association is appreciative that the USDA has
publicly indicated its support for implementation of the Organic Foods
Production Act as passed by Congress.  

Quoting the Senate Committee Report accompanying passage of the Act: 
"The Secretary is required to appoint a 13-member National Organic Standards
Board to assist generally in the development of standards and specifically to
formulate a Proposed National List. The Committee 
regards this Board as an essential advisor to the Secretary on all issues
concerning this bill and anticipates  that many of the key decisions
concerning standards will result from recommendations by this Board."  

The Boards key role in the National List process: "The Board is authorized to
hire a staff director and the Secretary may detail USDA staff or provide for
the hiring of staff to work with the Board. The Board shall convene Technical
Advisory Panels to provide 
scientific evaluations of the materials considered for inclusion on the
Proposed National List. Such Technical Advisory Panels should include
agronomists, entomologists, toxicologists, soil scientists, and 
other scientists with appropriate expertise in the task of the Panel.   
The Board is generally responsible for advising the Secretary on all aspects
of the implementation of this bill. Specifically, the Board is responsible for
evaluating substances for inclusion on the Proposed National List." 
Details of the National List, its content and procedures for inclusion on the
List are found in the Senate Report:
"The National List

Most consumers believe that absolutely no synthetic substances are used in
organic production. For the most part, they are correct and this is the basic
tenet of this legislation. But there are a few limited exceptions to the no-
synthetic rule and the National List is designed to handle these exceptions.  

Organic farmers have used some synthetic substances for several good reasons.
For example, some organic farmers use certain synthetic analogues to natural
substances when those substances are difficult to obtain. Insect pheromones a
often-used biological control substance in organic farming, are very difficult
to collect in nature and are therefore synthetically produced. The Committee
does not specifically disallow the use of pheromones in organic farming simply
because they are synthetically produced when pheromones are effective and
ecologically benign.     
The Committee does not intend to allow the use of many synthetic substances.
This legislation has been carefully written to prevent widespread exceptions
or "loopholes" in the organic standards which would circumvent the intent of
this legislation. The few synthetic substances that are widely recognized as
safe and traditionally used in organic production are explicitly cited in the
bill as potential items to be included on the National List if the Board and
the Secretary approve of their use.

The Board and the Secretary may consider allowing the use of synthetic active
ingredients in the following categories only: pheromones; copper and sulfur
compounds; soaps; horticultural oils; toxins derived from bacteria; treated
seed; fish emulsions; vitamins and minerals; livestock parasiticide and
medicines; and production aids such as machinery cleansers (including netting,
tree wraps and seals, insect traps, sticky barriers, row covers, and equipment

Organic farmers also use substances in which the active ingredient is known to
be natural but which also contain inert ingredients that are undisclosed as a
matter of trade secret law under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide
Act. The Committee suspects that many of these inert ingredients are
synthetic. For example, adjuvants would fall into this category.  Until such
time as FIFRA is altered to require the full disclosure of inert ingredients,
organic farmers should be allowed to continue using compounded substances if
the active ingredient is natural and if use of the substance is recommended by
the National Organic Standards Board and approved by the Secretary for
inclusion on the National List. However, in order for the National Organic
Standards Board to evaluate whether certain compounds should be listed, the
Board will need some information about the inert ingredients in question. The
Committee directs the Board to seek the advice of the Administrator of the
EPA, who has information on inert ingredients submitted as part of
registration, as to whether such inert material would be appropriate for
organic production.   EPA's response will not limit it's regulatory
responsibility for such material.  Almost all state and private organization
standards also provide for certain exceptions from the no-synthetic rule, some
more explicitly than others. 

Page 299

In deciding upon an acceptable list of materials for the Organic Standards
Board and the Secretary to consider the Committee surveyed State and private
regulations to ensure that the above categories, while more restrictive than
most of the current standards, will indeed protect the integrity of the
organic product while at the same time provide the producer a reasonable
amount of flexibility on production materials.  The Committee understands that
just because a substance is natural does not mean that it is safe and
appropriate for organic production. The National List may also include natural
substances otherwise allowed under this title but which are determined to be
harmful to human health or the environment and inconsistent with organic
farming.  Certain botanical pesticides may be considered by the Organic
Standards Board and the Secretary to be inappropriate for organic production
because their use poses significant harm to human health or the environment.
Whatever natural items appear on the National List shall be prohibited from
use in organic production.  Finally, the National  List is designed to cover
ingredients used inprocessing. The bill allows that up to five percent of
processed food labeled "organically produced" may contain non-synthetic
ingredients which are not organically produced if those ingredients are
included on the National  List. The five percent figure was arrived at after
consulting with various organic food processors as the amount of flexibility
necessary in processed food. The Committee intends that the guideline for
processed food ingredients on the National List be that some ingredients are
difficult or impossible to obtain. An example might be certain spices that are
unavailable at this time from an organic farm It may also include items that
are not technically organically produced such as yeast.  Several steps must be
taken before an item appears on the National List in any of the above
First the Organic Standards Board must review the substances in question based
upon criteria cited in the bill and with the aid off the Board's technical
panels. The Board may decide what substances require review. As well,
individuals may petition the Board to evaluate substances for inclusion on the
National List. The Board then constructs a Proposed National  List which is
submitted to the Secretary as a recommendation for composition of the Final
National List.  

The Secretary may not include exemptions for synthetic substances other than
those exemptions recommended by the National Organic Standards Board. The
Proposed National List represents the universe of synthetic materials from
which the Secretary may choose. Before establishing the final National List
the Secretary shall publish the Proposed National List in the Federal Register
and seek Public comment. The same procedures are to be followed for any
amendments to the National List."

2nd Session           SENATE         REPORT 101-357


JULY 6, l990 0rdered to be printed

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