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Daily News Blog

18
Dec

Tell USDA All Ingredients Used in Organic Must Be Reviewed

(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2018) The ingredients not listed on a pesticide product are not fully reviewed for their adverse effects may be the most toxic chemicals in the formulation. Recent research, Toxicity of formulants and heavy metals in glyphosate-based herbicides and other pesticides (Toxicology Reports 5, 2018), by Defarge, de Vendômois, and Séralini demonstrates the need to disclose and test all ingredients in pesticide products, as well as the full formulation that includes “inert” or nondisclosed ingredients. While glyphosate/Roundup is obviously not allowed to be used in organic production, this research reaffirms the need to evaluate full formulations of substances allowed for use in organic.

The research on glyphosate tested the toxicity of the herbicide glyphosate, “inerts” in glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH), and the pesticide formulations–looking at toxicity to target organisms, toxicity to human cells, and endocrine-disrupting activity. In addition to the GBH products, the researchers studied a number of other pesticides.

Tell NOP and USDA that “inerts” used in organic production must receive full review by the NOSB.

“Inert” ingredients are allowed in pesticides used in organic production as well as those used in chemical-intensive production. The National Organic Program (NOP) allows “inerts,” permitted in conventional production and formerly listed on EPA’s List 4, “inerts of minimal concern,” as well as a few formerly listed on List 3, “inerts of unknown toxicity,” to be used in organic production. Because the standards of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) are much more restrictive than those used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate pesticides, and given changes in how the agency categorizes “inerts,” the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has adopted a series of recommendations since 2010 that established a substance review process as part of the five-year cycle of sunset review. The NOSB has voted overwhelmingly to require review of all individual “inerts” used in organic production, but NOP has refused to move forward.

Although GBH products are not permitted in organic production, the results of the Defarge et al. study are relevant to decisions concerning materials used in organic crops and livestock. The scientists found that for GBH products, glyphosate was not the major toxic component–to either plants or human cells–and that formulations, as well as glyphosate alone, are endocrine disruptors at low concentrations. Glyphosate alone did not show herbicidal effects on tomato plants for five days following application. Formulations that included POEA (polyethoxylated tallowamine) are the most toxic to plants and human cells, and POEA itself is highly toxic to plants and animals. GBH formulations are no more toxic to plants than the formulants (“inert” ingredients). The researchers concluded, “Hence G [glyphosate] did not appear to be the main active substance of the herbicide, but rather the formulants.”

The researchers also identified a number of other toxic substances in the products, including arsenic, chromium, cobalt, nickel, and lead. Arsenic was present in almost all samples.

This research calls into question the fundamental principles embodied in federal pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which distinguishes  “active” ingredients, those ingredients in pesticide products for which pesticidal activity is claimed, from “inert” ingredients, now labeled “other ingredients.” “Inert” ingredients receive minimal review (to establish tolerances), compared to “active” ingredients, and are protected from disclosure on the product label as proprietary manufacturer information. It reinforces why the NOSB and NOP cannot rely on the standards that govern the use or allowance of pesticides under pesticide law.

This research also challenges the apparent assumption by NOP that “inert” ingredients are less important to review than “active” ingredients. The “active” ingredients in pesticide products used in organic production receive intense scrutiny before the NOSB allows their use. However, “inert” ingredients –which, as the Defarge et al. study demonstrates, may actually be the active ingredients— have not received any scrutiny by the NOSB for compliance with OFPA criteria.

NOP must act on the NOSB recommendations that “inert” ingredients used in organic production be reviewed by the NOSB according to OFPA criteria by putting review of these materials on the NOSB work agenda.

Tell NOP and USDA that “inerts” used in organic production must receive full review by the NOSB.

Letter to National Organic Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue:

I am concerned that the National Organic Program (NOP) has not followed through with recommendations from its advisory board, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), to fully review “inert” ingredients in pesticide products used in organic production according to the standards of the Organic Foods Production Act. Recent research underlines the importance of this review.

The ingredients not listed on a pesticide product are not fully reviewed for their adverse effects may be the most toxic chemicals in the formulation. Recent research, Toxicity of formulants and heavy metals in glyphosate-based herbicides and other pesticides (Toxicology Reports 5, 2018), by Defarge, de Vendômois, and Séralini demonstrates the need to disclose and test all ingredients in pesticide products, as well as the full formulation that includes “inert” or nondisclosed ingredients. While glyphosate/Roundup is obviously not allowed to be used in organic production, this research reaffirms the need to evaluate full formulations of substances allowed for use in organic.

The research on glyphosate tested the toxicity of the herbicide glyphosate, “inerts” in glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH), and the pesticide formulations–looking at toxicity to target organisms, toxicity to human cells, and endocrine-disrupting activity.

“Inert” ingredients are allowed in pesticides used in organic production as well as those used in chemical-intensive production. NOP allows “inerts” permitted in converntional production and formerly listed on EPA’s List 4, “inerts of minimal concern,” as well as a few formerly listed on List 3, “inerts of unknown toxicity,” to be used in organic production. Because the standards of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) are much more restrictive than those used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate pesticides and given changes in how the agency categorizes “inerts,” the NOSB has adopted a series of recommendations since 2010 that established a substance review process as part of the five year cycle of sunset review. The NOSB has voted overwhelmingly to require review of all individual “inerts” used in organic production, but NOP has refused to move forward.

Although GBH products are not permitted in organic production, the results of the Defarge et al study are relevant to decisions concerning materials used in organic crops and livestock. The researchers also identified a number of other toxic substances in the products, including arsenic, chromium, cobalt, nickel, and lead. Arsenic was present in almost all samples.

This research calls into question the fundamental principles embodied in federal pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which distinguishes  “active” ingredients, those ingredients in pesticide products for which pesticidal activity is claimed, from “inert” ingredients, now labeled “other ingredients.” “Inert” ingredients receive minimal review (to establish tolerances), compared to “active” ingredients, and are protected from disclosure on the product label as proprietary manufacturer information. It reinforces why the NOSB and NOP cannot rely on the standards that govern the use or allowance of pesticides under pesticide law.

This research also challenges the apparent assumption by NOP that “inert” ingredients are less important to review than “active” ingredients. The “active” ingredients in pesticide products used in organic production receive intense scrutiny before the NOSB allows their use. However, “inert” ingredients –which, as the Defarge et al. study demonstrates, may actually be the active ingredients— have not received any scrutiny by the NOSB for compliance with OFPA criteria.

I request that NOP act on the NOSB recommendations that “inert” ingredients used in organic production undergo NOSB review by putting an assessment of these materials on the NOSB work agenda.

Sincerely,

 

Share

8 Responses to “Tell USDA All Ingredients Used in Organic Must Be Reviewed”

  1. 1
    Calli Madrone Says:

    Please review all ingredients used in organic foods.

  2. 2
    Karen Levins Says:

    STOP POISONING US!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE FULLY AWARE OF THE ONES THAT ARE DESTROYING PEOPLE AND ANIMAL’S HEALTH!

  3. 3
    Brenda Frey Says:

    I want to see things labelled if it is organic or not because we have the right to know what we are buying.

  4. 4
    Kathleen Miles Says:

    Years ago, a family friend who was an agricultural researcher with the University of California Extension Service (called himself a “weed man”) insisted to me that Roundup was perfectly safe. Now we know it is anything but safe. Other products the “experts” have told us are safe deserve the scrutiny that finally exposed the dangers of Roundup.

  5. 5
    Lascinda G Goetschius Says:

    We must protect our Earth and the Animals. We are the Stewards of the Earth

  6. 6
    Amy Griffin Says:

    Inert ingredients should be reviewed as part of organic food production certification. Consumers deserve to know that the food for which they pay a premium is pesticide and heavy-metal free.

  7. 7
    Lisa Scharin Says:

    As a concerned consumer-I read labels and expect honesty and transparency in naming ALL ingredients included in products-especially those that you consume, can potentially breath into your lungs or nose or absorb through your skin!
    I look for NATURAL, ORGANIC, NON GMO products that are also CRUELTY-FREE with NO animal products or testing, etc. I also avoid Palm Oil, milk, eggs.
    I also expect the government, the USDA, EPA to PROTECT PEOPLE-NOT corporations!!!!!!!!

  8. 8
    Sandra Cobb Says:

    Organic should mean organic. All ingredients need to be tested and monitored to assure compliance. Don’t cut corners. This is America’s food for our children.

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