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Spring 2017 NOSB Meeting

Keeping Organic Strong: Changes in organic regulations and farming practices
National Organic Standards Board

Spring 2017 NOSB Meeting
Comment by March 30, 2017!

When: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 8:30am to Friday, April 21, 2017 - 6:00pm
Where: Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, 1550 Court Place, Denver, CO 80202

The spring 2017 meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by March 30, 2017. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label.

The proposals of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), as a part of its ongoing review of practices and materials, are published for public comment. The public comment period will end March 30, 2017. On this page, Beyond Pesticides will be providing the public with a listing and analysis of the issues under consideration of the Board when it meets in Denver, CO on April 19-21, 2017. You can view USDA's announcement of the NOSB's meeting and proposals here. Please see Beyond Pesticides' analysis below (and more coming soon).

To truly make an impact in the future of organic, Beyond Pesticides encourages you to:

**On certain browsers, it may be necessary to download a PDF version of Beyond Pesticides' comments in order to view the navigation pane**

 

Cross-Cutting Issues

Compliance, Accreditation, & Certification Subcommittee (CACS)

Crops Subcommittee

Handling Subcommittee

Livestock Subcommittee

Materials Subcommittee

Policy Development Subcommittee

   

 

 

See Full Meeting Agenda

 

Take Action at Regulations.gov!
(Comments Due March 30, 2017!)

 

See All
Comments So Far

 

See Beyond Pesticides' Commenting Guidelines

 

See All Meeting Materials and Issues

 

The Organic Foods Production Act

Sanitizers and Disinfectants

This includes calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, and sodium hypchlorite for crops; acidified sodium chlorite, calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, and sodium hypchlorite for handling; and calcium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, and sodium hypchlorite for livestock.

To the extent possible, organic should be chlorine-free. Chlorine is hazardous in its production, transportation, storage, use, and disposal. EPA's Design for the Environment has identified safer viable alternatives for some or all uses, including other materials on the National List. It is time for the NOSB to update its thinking and approach to cleaners and disinfectants. Several steps need to be taken:

  1. OFPA requires that materials on the National List be itemized “by specific use or application.” Justification of listing of chlorine materials requires that the NOSB identify the uses for which they are needed. Needs for cleaners, sanitizers, disinfectants, and sterilants must be distinguished.
  2. Freedom from microbes is not always good. Not only is sterility often unnecessary, but it is also sometimes counterproductive because eliminating benign microbes can make room for spoilage organisms or pathogens.
  3. Establishing the need for a “sanitizer” requires a demonstration that a certain degree of freedom from microbes is required. The NOSB must establish when microbes should be removed from what and the degree to which they must be removed.
  4. Alternative practices and materials must be considered, such as those identified by technical reviews and EPA’s Safer Choice Program.
  5. NOSB must examine the need for these materials in light of alternatives and hazards.
  6. Chlorine compounds have long been identified as hazardous to humans and the environment. The NOSB, in reviewing the listings of these materials, must delve into the needs, alternatives, and hazards.


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  • In-field, annual evaluations of inspectors update (NOP 2027)

    • See Beyond Pesticides' comments here
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: We believe that performance evaluations of inspectors are necessary to maintain the public trust in the organic label and assure that inspections are accurate, but disagree with the current requirement for on-site, or field inspections for “every inspector, every year” portion of the rule. Instead, we recommend an updated model for on-site evaluations which prioritizes evaluating novice inspectors or inspectors who require the need for additional evaluations based on past-reviews. For certifiers who do not fall into either of these categories, allowing for an evaluation cycle timeframe of three years would remove the burdens that have been identified by certifying bodies and others. We believe this updated model will achieve the goal conducting consistent, thorough inspections while maintaining a less burdensome approach logistically and financially to on-site evaluations.
  • Eliminating the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems into Organic Crop Production

    • See Beyond Pesticides' comments here
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: We support the Wild Farm Alliance’s request to develop guidance on “Eliminating the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems into Organic Crop Production.” NOP’s three-year waiting period for transitioning to organic production serves a critical purpose and it should be retained. However, we urge NOSB to recognize that the conversion of native ecosystems that have no cropping history to organic production is an unintended consequence of the requirement, and to develop regulatory language to discourage such conversion. Protection of biodiversity cannot wait for the regulatory timetable. Therefore, we call upon NOSB and NOP to develop guidance implementing the NOSB’s 2009 recommendations, while simultaneously working on regulations. We also believe that protection should not be limited to those species and communities recognized as threatened or endangered, but should recognize that habitat is already so fragmented that further destruction of natural lands threatens entire ecological communities.

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Petitions

  • All petitions have been delayed until Fall 2017.

Sunset

  • Calcium hypochlorite
  • Chlorine dioxide
  • Sodium hypochlorite
  • Herbicides, soap based
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Herbicidal soaps should be allowed to sunset because they do not meet the criteria for listing on the National List. They may harm many soil-dwelling organisms including insects, earthworms, and nematodes that are supportive of organic production. The annotation restricts its use to non-crop areas, but these areas should be sources of biodiversity that support the farm. Herbicidal soaps are unnecessary –several natural materials can be used instead, including vinegar, citric acid, essential oils, corn gluten meal, mulches, and hot water. Alternative practices include mulching, mowing, grazing, hand/mechanical cultivation, and use of flame or other sources of heat. Herbicidal soaps are non-selective synthetic herbicides. The NOSB has generally found synthetic herbicides to be incompatible with organic practices.
  • Biodegradable biobased mulch film
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: The 2015 report from the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and the 2016 supplemental technical review by OMRI confirm what many critics said when biodegradable biobased bioplastic mulch (BBBM) was first proposed for the National List –BBBM is “not ready for prime time.” Biodegradable bioplastic mulch film and the associated definition should be removed from the regulations. Further research is needed before BBBM meeting OFPA criteria will be available. Furthermore, neither NOP nor the NOSB can weaken the requirement in OFPA that plastic mulch –bioplastic or other— be removed at the end of the growing season.
  • Boric acid
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Although boric acid has long been considered a “least-toxic” pesticide when placed in traps as non-volatile bait or gel formulations that eliminate direct exposure, its use as a dust in structures can result in exposure and hazards for exposed people. With the challenging issues of health and environmental/mining impacts and available alternative materials and practices that may be less harmful, if boric acid remains on the National List, it should be further annotated, “for use only as bait in traps or in gel formulations.” Since the NOP has allowed a number of annotation proposals to go forward in tandem with sunset proposals, we suggest that we suggest that the sunset motion be considered with an annotation motion.
  • Sticky traps/barriers
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Like a number of other materials used for insect control, sticky traps suffer from the shortcoming of having the potential to kill non-target organisms. Most are non-specific and kill non-target insects, spiders, mites, reptiles, and amphibians, but can be used in such a way that the likelihood of trapping non-target animals is low. The CS should explore the possibility of an annotation that ensures the targeted use of these traps, such as “Must be used in a way that prevents the capture of non-target animals.” Since the NOP has allowed a number of annotation proposals to go forward in tandem with sunset proposals, we suggest that the sunset motion be considered with an annotation motion.
  • Copper Sulfate and Fixed Coppers
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: The NOSB must not let another sunset review of copper materials pass without taking steps to comply with OFPA in itemizing, “by specific use or application,” the uses of copper. A Technical Review shoud enumerate and evaluate needs for copper materials in organic production. Since past actions by the NOSB have not been effective in initiating NOP action, we ask the board to attach an expiration date to the listings for fixed coppers and copper sulfate. It is critical for organic integrity and public trust in organic production methods that NOP follow the law, past Board reviews and requests for action and follow-through, and create a full public record that ensures the public that all materials are subject to full and thorough review. Since copper products are among the most hazardous materials for workers used in organic production and generate significant criticism of organic production, this is an appropriate place to stress the importance of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and compliance with EPA’s Worker Protection Standard. We suggest this worker protection annotation, “Steps to meet worker protection standards must be documented in the Organic System Plan.” Since the NOP has allowed a number of annotation proposals to go forward in tandem with sunset proposals, we suggest that the sunset motion be considered with an annotation motion.
  • Humic acids
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Synthetic humic acids present environmental hazards in extraction, are not essential, and are not compatible with organic production. Synthetic humic acids may play a role in the transition to organic, but are incompatible with organic practices and should not be used on certified organic farms. An annotation to the effect that “humic acid may be used in the transition to organic if accompanied by a plan for building soil that provides adequate nutrition through soil-building practices and organic inputs” would be acceptable. If the NOSB chooses this option, then we suggest that we suggest that the sunset motion be considered with an annotation motion.
  • Micronutrients: Soluble Boron Products; Sulfates, Carbonates, Oxides, or Silicates of Zinc, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, and Cobalt

    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: This listing covers a number of materials, and the coverage by the existing technical review is uneven. It does not address the manufacturing (mining) impacts of these materials at all. The Crops Subcommittee should address each micronutrient, looking at manufacturing impacts, essentiality, and compatibility of each. The Crops Subcommittee must bring to the NOSB a proposal that is based on examining all of the allowed synthetic micronutrients and their chelating agents in light of OFPA criteria. Beyond Pesticides suggests that an annotation be added: “Soil deficiency must be demonstrated by verifiable site-specific documentation that is accompanied by a plan for building soil that provides adequate nutrition through soil-building practices and organic inputs.” Since the NOP has allowed a number of annotation proposals to go forward in tandem with sunset proposals, we suggest that the sunset motion be considered with an annotation motion.
  • Vitamins B1, C, and E
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Beyond Pesticides supports the sunsetting of vitamins B1, C, and E in crop production. The vitamins may be produced by genetically engineered organisms, and the technical review finds them ineffective for the purposes for which they are used, listing alternative substances for vitamin B1 and alternative practices for all three.
  • Lead Salts (Prohibited)
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Although OFPA specifically prohibits the use of lead salts in organic crop production, and they are no longer registered for pesticidal use by EPA, good government requires that regulations be backed up by reference to legal criteria. Such justification should be provided for lead salts. The Crops Subcommittee should consult the Toxicological Profile for Lead prepared by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in preparing its justification document. Lead salts are highly toxic and persistent, bioconcentrate in plants and animals, and cause a number of toxic effects, including the impairment of neurological development in children. They should remain listed on §602 as prohibited in organic production.
  • Tobacco Dust (Nicotine Sulfate, Prohibited)
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: We were pleased to see that in 2015, the decision to relist tobacco dust (nicotine sulfate) was backed up by research relating to OFPA criteria (i.e., a checklist). Tobacco dust/nicotine sulfate is very toxic. The production of tobacco requires high inputs of fertilizer and pesticides and results in water pollution. The registration of the last remaining nicotine sulfate pesticide was cancelled in 2013, and nicotine sulfate is no longer available for sale in the U.S. It should remain on §602 to discourage use of homemade tobacco dust or use on imported products.

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Discussion Documents

Other Comments

  • "Inerts" Annotation Change, Prohibition of NPEs in "Inerts"
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Click here to see the full report referenced in Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: There continues to be an unconscionable delay in implementing NOSB recommendations for replacing the obsolete references to EPA List 3 and List 4 “inert” ingredients on the National List with listings of actual approved non-active ingredients in pesticide products. These ingredients frequently compose as much as 99% of pesticide products, and due to NOSB scrutiny of active ingredients, they may be the most hazardous ingredients in pesticide products used in organic production. The NOSB must insist that NOP move forward with implementing the NOSB recommendations on “inert” ingredients, beginning with the MOU between USDA and EPA that establishes the responsibilities of NOP, EPA, and the NOSB.
  • Contaminated Inputs
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: The plan to address contaminated inputs in organic production --last addressed by the NOSB two years ago-- is needed more urgently than ever. The problem of contaminated water resources only adds to the problems already identified –including antibiotics in manure, pesticides in lawn wastes, and others. We urge the NOSB to devote resources to furthering the plan and its implementation, including the development of a discussion document on water contaminated by oil and gas production.

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Petitions

Sunset

  • Magnesium chloride 205.605

    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Magnesium chloride for use in crops is “classified as nonsynthetic when extracted from brine, seawater, and salt deposits.” The 2016 TR describes both nonsynthetic and synthetic processes by which magnesium chloride is produced from sea water. The HS should revisit the classification decision for magnesium chloride derived from sea water. If it is found to be nonsynthetic, then it should be petitioned for listing on §205.605(a) and removed from §205.605(b). The only use supported by comments is the use for tofu, so it should be annotated, “as a coagulant in making tofu.”
  • Potassium acid tartrate 205.605(b)

    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Although cream of tartar (potassium acid tartrate) appears to be a useful ingredient that presents few hazards, it appears to be a nonsynthetic material that does not belong on §205.605(b). It is an ingredient in many recipes that seems to be absent in many kitchens, so cooks have learned to do without it. The HSshould revisit the classification of potassium acid tartrate and investigate the possibility of encouraging its production from organic grapes.
  • Sodium phosphates 205.605(b)

    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: The NOSB should seek to eliminate the addition of inorganic phosphates to organic food. Sodium phosphates are especially problematic because they add both sodium and phosphate –both of which are oversupplied in American diets. If there are particular uses of sodium phosphate that are essential, then the Handling Subcommittee should propose an annotation limiting them to those uses, to move parallel to the sunset motion.
  • Casings 205.606

    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: The evaluation of casings from processed intestines must take into consideration the use of pesticides in the non-organic production of corn and soybeans and ensure that GMO grains are not used in producing organic products. The NOSB must consider the availability of organic intestines for this purpose, as well as the potential availability of casings if the demand was enhanced by removal of this listing. The NOSB should discuss ways to encourage the availability of organic casings and add an expiration date as a way of incentivizing the development of an organic alternative.
  • Konjac flour 205.606

    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Even if the HS and NOSB decide that the need for konjac flour overrides the environmental and health hazards created by its production in a non-organic system, the subcommittee should acknowledge those factors and state that the need outweighs them. Amorphophallus konjac has been genetically engineered to be resistant to rot, and the NOSB must ensure that GE konjac flour is not used in organic products.Konjac flour should be allowed to sunset because of the hazards of pesticides used in its culture and the availability of organic konjac as documented by the HS in 2015.
  • Pectin (non-amidated forms only) 205.606

    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: A listing on §205.606 should be limited to high methoxyl pectin (HMP), which is extracted from citrus peel and apple pomace. In reviewing the impact of the manufacture of HMP, the HS must consider the impacts of raising the non-organic crops used to produce it. Since low methoxyl pectin (LMP) is synthetic because it is the result of a chemical process that demethylates high methoxyl pectin, it should be delisted and considered for listing on §205.605(b).

Discussion Documents

  • Packaging Substances Used in Organic Food Handling –including BPA
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting chemical that is used in the liners of food cans, including those by some organic processors. It leaches into the food. BPA should be prohibited for use in organic processing, but the NOSB must investigate alternative can linings and determine which are safe.
  • Tocopherols Annotation
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: In light of evidence that nonsynthetic tocopherols are available, the HS is considering listing tocopherols as allowed nonsynthetics on §205.605(a). However, for this meeting, the HS proposes to hold off on adding tocopherols to §205.605(a) until it can collect public comment. Meanwhile, the HS passed a motion to change the annotation for tocopherols listed at 205.605(b) of the National List to “Derived from plant oils. Non-synthetic or organic tocopherols are to be used when commercially available.” While it makes sense to limit use of synthetic tocopherols, and give preference to nonsynthetic or organic forms, nonsynthetic tocopherols are not currently listed on §205.605(a), so this proposal is untimely.
  • Marine Materials (Marine Algae and Extracts)
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: The HS proposal to specify the particular seaweeds used in aquatic plant listing on §205.605 and §205.606should be adopted by the NOSB. Specificity in listing of species makes the regulations more precise and allows better review of OFPA criteria by the NOSB. For the same reasons, the NOSB should support the recommendation that NOP develop guidance on the use of the word “kelp” as used in organic production and wild harvesting. The NOSB should also create criteria that prohibits use of marine algae that are threatened by overharvesting or whose harvest is ecologically disruptive.
  • Ancillary Substances in Cellulose
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: The Handling Subcommittee has not performed the review necessary to support this proposal. Some of the substances that it would allow are toxic in any amount. Therefore, the NOSB must reject this proposal. The other ancillary substances proposed must also be reviewed. The HS should bring to the NOSB a proposal to prohibit the ancillary substances “polyvinylidene, vinyl chloride,” kymene, and unspecified “resin.” The statement, “Any additional ancillaries that fall within one of the functional classes listed below do not need to be reviewed further in order to be used” should be removed from all proposals on ancillary substances.

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 Sunset

Discussion Documents

  • Defining emergency treatment for parasiticides
    • Click here to see Beyond Pesticides' comments
    • Submit your own comment here
    • Background: We suggest the following definition, which is an edited form of the definition suggested by NODPA: “A livestock emergency is an urgent, non-routine situation in which the organic system plan’s preventive measures and veterinary bio logics are proven, by laboratory analysis and visual inspection, to be inadequate to prevent life - threatening illness or to alleviate pain and suffering . In such cases, a producer must administer the emergency treatment (§205.238(c)(7)). Organic certificat ion will be retained provided, that, such treatments are allowed under § 205.603 and the organic system plan is changed to prevent a similar livestock emergency in individual animals or the whole herd/flock in future years as required under §205.238(a).”

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 Check back for Spring 2017 proposals and further information.

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