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09
May

Take Back Organic: May 15 Deadline to Apply for Open Seats on the NOSB

(Beyond Pesticides, May 9, 2014) Bring a strong voice to the Board that advises USDA on organic standards by filling one of the four open seats for the following stakeholders —environmentalist, organic producer, organic handler, and retailer. The deadline for applying is May 15. In April, USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met to decide on a range of issues concerning allowable materials and practices in certified organic farming. The 15-member volunteer board represents the interests of the organic community, consisting of 4 farmers, 3 environmentalists, 3 consumers, 2 food processors, and one retailer, scientist and certifying agent, who vote to allow or prohibit substances and practices in certified organic food and farming. It is a board that is intended to bring together diverse interests and provide recommendations to the National Organic Program (NOP) for adoption. USDA may not allow synthetic materials in organic production that are not recommended for use by the Board. The Board is in need of strong nominees who will stand up for organic integrity in the four categories (listed above), especially for the environmental position by May 15.organic

In the past, the USDA has agribusiness executive to seats on the NOSB reserved for farmers, consumers, and other independent positions —where the organic law has explicitly only allowed two representatives of agribusiness onto the Board. In a gross breach of faith, USDA appointed the executive of General Mills to the Boards as a representative for consumers. The move prompted strong criticism launched by the largest consumer groups —Consumers Union and the Organic Consumers Association— that she was not qualified to represent the consumer sector, leading to the withdrawal of her appointment.

Now more than ever it is imperative that independent and qualified members of the organic community to serve on the NOSB who will support organic integrity, protect the interests of farmers and stand strong against USDA’s political tactics to divest the Board of its powers.

Beyond Pesticides’ executive director, Jay Feldman, serves in one of three environmental positions on the NOSB. Board terms are five-years beginning on January 2015. Self-nominations or the nomination of another must be filed with USDA by May 15, 2014. More details and background can be found on the National Organic Program website.

Nomination applications are to be sent to Rita Meade, USDA–AMS–NOP, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Room 2648-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250, or via email to Rita.Meade@ams.usda.gov.

On our Keeping Organic Strong action page, you will find summaries of the significant actions taken by the Board at the recent Spring 2014 meeting in San Antonio, Texas which includes the phase out of antibiotics, along with supporting documentation. Each issue is discussed separately, incorporating Beyond Pesticides’ positions on what the outcomes signify for the future of the organic movement. In addition, to see the current challenges faced by new USDA policies and take action, see Beyond Pesticides’ Save Our Organic webpage.

The next meeting of the NOSB will be held in Louisville, KY on October 28-30, 2014. More information about this meeting will be posted as it becomes available. To find information about previous NOSB meetings go to our NOSB Archives page, or you can read through the minutes from committee meetings on the NOP website.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

 

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