GREENFIELD (Oct. 16, 2000)—If no action is taken, companies and farmers producing organic products will soon be prohibited from using commonly accepted synthetic materials not yet on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) are warning.
Before year’s end, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to publish a final rule implementing the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA). Once the rule is final, only those synthetic substances permitted on the National List will be allowed in organic production and processing.
The National Organic Program (NOP) in July invited interested parties to submit petitions to NOSB to amend the National List. The National List identifies synthetic substances that may be used and non-synthetic substances that cannot be used in organic production and handling. NOSB has contracted with the Organic Materials Review Institute to advise which materials should be included, or prohibited. Only materials for which petitions are received will be reviewed.
"Producers and processors should make the submission of these petitions a top priority," said Carolyn Brickey, chair of NOSB. "There is going to be a train wreck in the industry if these petitions are not submitted soon."
As of mid-September, NOSB had received petitions for only six materials. According to OTA, there are approximately 200 materials that are commonly used by the industry that have yet to be reviewed by NOSB.
Many of the materials in question are used in food processing. Others are used in livestock production. Each synthetic material in a compound, not product brand names, will need to undergo a review.
Petitions should be submitted to Robert Pooler, USDA/AMS/TMP/NOP, Room 2510 South, PO Box 96456, Washington, D.C. 20090-6456 (phone: 202-720-3252; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Details of the procedure, published in the July 13, 2000, Federal Register, are available on NOP’s web site (www.ams.usda.gov/nop).
To facilitate the process, OTA, as the trade association for the organic industry, is encouraging its members to collaborate on writing petitions for materials they want added, according to Tom Hutcheson, OTA’s policy coordinator.
October 16, 2000
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