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Daily News Blog

19
Mar

Keeping Organic Strong: Public Comments Due

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 20018) Comment by April 4 to Protect Organic Integrity. Organic integrity is under unprecedented attack from the Trump Administration’s Department of Agriculture (USDA), Congress, and those who would like to sell food as “organic” without following the stringent rules established for organic food production and labeling. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), established to represent the organic community in advising USDA on organic practices, will be voting on important issues, and your input is critical to that process. The NOSB meets twice yearly to consider issues including materials used in organic production and oversight of the National Organic Program within USDA.

Submit your comments at Regulations.gov!

Enforcement is a critical component to any standard setting program. Recent reports in the Washington Post have highlighted fraudulent activities by companies selling products as organic. While this activity is certainly deviant, it taints the organic label and, if not dealt with seriously, will become a bigger problem. The NOSB will consider motions at the Spring 2018 meeting that will stop this practice. Your voice is needed to make this happen!

Make your voice heard on this and other issues by submitting comments NOW on what materials and practices are allowed in organic production! An easy way to speak out is to go to the Beyond Pesticides website, find our positions, write your comments (using our summary –feel free to cut-and-paste our comments), and submit your comments on the government website. [For those not familiar with commenting on these critical organic integrity issues, because of the government public comment process, this action requires that you post your comments on the government’s ‘regulations.gov’ website. We have simplified this process through our Keeping Organic Strong webpage.]

Beyond Pesticides provides you with our positions, which you can use as the basis for your comments. Please feel free to develop your own comments or copy and paste ours. If you copy and paste our comments into regulations.gov, please begin your comment with a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance of these issues to you as an organic consumer, farmer, or other concerned party.

We encourage anyone who feels strongly about any of these issues to claim a three-minute speaking slot at the NOSB webinars on April 17 and 19, 2018 or at the NOSB meeting in Tucson, Arizona on April 25. Registration closes April 4.

Some major issues being considered at the Spring meeting are:

Addressing Fraud in Organic Production: The fraud problem extends to both imported and domestically grown organic food. It is a problem whenever someone portrays as organic a product that does not meet the rigorous organic standards required to use the USDA organic label. Fraud hurts all sectors of the organic community –especially organic producers who follow the letter and spirit of the law and the consumers who depend on the market to provide organic food that meets organic standards. Fraud is a problem when crops that are grown with prohibited inputs, when livestock do not get the required access to pasture, and when organic crops are produced in artificial media.

The topic of inspector qualifications and training, listed separately on the NOSB agenda, is an integral part of fraud prevention. Regulations must be clear, so that they can be enforced. USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) must have a will to enforce, whether the violator is large or small, foreign or domestic. The task facing the NOSB and NOP is to craft a multi-faceted strategy to prevent organic fraud.

Packaging Substances, including Bisphenol A (BPA): BPA should be eliminated from organic food packaging. At the same time, since some known alternatives to BPA may also present similar problems, the NOSB should approach the issue of food packaging in a comprehensive way. The NOSB’s Handling Subcommittee should ensure that packaging is a priority issue and request a scientific technical review of BPA and its alternatives, so that it can adopt the strongest most comprehensive packaging standard for organic food.

Eliminating Incentives to Convert Native Ecosystems to Organic Cropland: Unfortunately, the legal requirement to avoid the use of prohibited substances for three years before land can be certified organic produces an unintended incentive to convert important native habitat to organic farms. To protect native lands, the NOSB should pass the Certification, Accreditation, and Compliance subcommittee improved proposal. The details on implementing the proposal as part of farmers’ organic system plans should be worked out in cooperation with the Wild Farm Alliance and experienced certifiers.

Comment by April 4 to Protect Organic Integrity

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  • Archives

  • Categories

    • ALS (2)
    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (11)
    • Aquaculture (23)
    • Aquatic Organisms (9)
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    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (15)
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