Letter to Editor
The New York Times
Regarding the 11/1/05 article What Is Organic? Powerful Players Want a Say. Let's be clear: No synthetic ingredients may be allowed in organic production without the approval of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), a citizen's advisory council to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Like organic standards used throughout the world, the U.S. organic standards have always allowed a limited list of specific stringently reviewed synthetic materials in organic post-harvest handling and processing. All 38 items on the list were reviewed and accepted by NOSB.
The National Organic Program was designed with checks and balances. The list of allowed materials must be reviewed every five years. Any synthetic substance deemed to have an organic or natural alternative in ready supply can be removed from the list. Organic businesses will continue to lead the way in developing innovative options for food production, but that takes a stable regulatory environment. No matter the size, every organic business must meet or exceed national standards.
Thanks to recent bi-partisan legislative action to restore the national organic program, consumers can still purchase their favorite products with the "USDA Organic" seal, and farmers can continue to have outlets for their organic crops. Growth of the organic business community means more farms using organic practices, resulting in greater environmental and public health benefits for everyone.
Katherine DiMatteo, Executive Director, Organic Trade Association