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NOP05-21-07

NOP: RE: Proposed Rule (606) 05-21-07 - Organic Trade Association
Organic Trade Association
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NOP: RE: Proposed Rule (606) 05-21-07

 
May 21, 2007

Robert Pooler
Agricultural Marketing Specialist
National Organic Program
USDA/AMS/TMP/NOP
Room 4008-So., Ag Stop 0268
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250

RE: Proposed Rule, Proposed Amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (Processing); Docket No. AMS-TM-07-0062; TM-07-06.

Dear Mr. Pooler,

Thank you very much for the opportunity to comment.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is pleased to support this proposed rule. The National Organic Standards Board worked very hard to review and act on a number of petitions, and OTA applauds NOSB and NOP for their roles in making this rulemaking work as smoothly as it has. OTA also appreciates NOSB’s recognition that this process was not a determination of commercial availability of
the petitioned materials, which is the sole province of the accredited certifying agent. Allowing these non-organic minor ingredients when they are commercially unavailable will only boost the demand for their organic counterparts.

When this proposed rule takes effect, only those non-organic agricultural products that have been successfully petitioned to NOSB and published in the Federal Register will be allowed when the organic counterparts are not available. Thus, the number of ingredients allowed under those circumstances will shrink compared with the current situation.

As you know, currently, any non-organic agricultural ingredients, if an organic version is unavailable, are being allowed in the remaining 5 percent of the ingredients in products labeled as “Organic” (at least 95% of the ingredients in the products in this category must be organic ingredients, excluding water and salt, by weight). The idea that the new rule could see more ingredients permitted in organic products is misleading and inaccurate. A more accurate statement would be “the number of non-organic ingredients permitted in organic products will shrink dramatically.”

With the U.S. District Court order issued as a result of actions that challenged the National Organic Standards in June, 2005, and USDA’s agreement, non-organic agricultural ingredients now must be petitioned for use, and then may be used only in the case that an organic version is demonstrably unavailable in the appropriate form, quality or quantity. This allow products with 95+% organic content to supply consumer demand as supplies of minor organic ingredients are created, which in turn drives demand for both major and minor organic ingredients.

We also note that all other provisions of the regulations pertaining to non-organic agricultural ingredients in organic products remain in place. For example, all non-organic agricultural ingredients used in products in the “made with” and “organic” label categories must come from farms that do not use sewage sludge or genetic engineered seeds, and irradiation is also prohibited for those non-organic agricultural ingredients as well.

Finally, we appreciate the time constraint NOP and NOSB have been working under and support the decision for a seven-day comment period.

Thank you very much.

Yours truly,

Tom Hutcheson
Regulatory and Policy Manager
 
 
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