The NOSB passed a recommendation directing the USDA National Organic Program to prohibit engineered nanomaterials from certified organic products as expeditiously as possible.
Nanotechnology is the science and manipulation of chemical and biological materials with dimensions in the range from 1-300 nm. Because nanotechnology is such a new field, nanomaterials were not specifically addressed when the Organic Foods Production Act was passed in 1990. While synthetic materials are already prohibited from organic production, unless specifically exempted, the NOSB recommendation will pressure the NOP to block petitions seeking an exemption and keep nanomaterials out of food packaging and contact surfaces. The recommendation also provides clarification that nanosized particles of synthetic substances already included on the National List may not be used in organic production. The NOSB recommendation deals specifically with engineered nanomaterials and purposefully omits those that are naturally occurring (corrosion particles, sea spray) or incidentally created (through traditional production methods such as grain milling and milk homogenization).
While there is overwhelming agreement to prohibit nanotechnology in organics generally, there is still confusion over the definition of what exactly should be prohibited how to prohibit nanotech products in the organic industry. To deal with outstanding issues, NOSB has recommended that NOP host a symposium on this topic. For more information, read Beyond Pesticides's full analysis in a November 5, 2010 Daily News Blog post.
Read the NOSB Materials Committee's Engineered Nanomaterials Guidance Document (October 28, 2010)