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Daily News Blog

22
Mar

Keep Antibiotics Out of Organic—Keep Organic Strong on Range of Issues; Comment by April 5

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2021) The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is receiving written comments from the public through April 5. This precedes the upcoming public hearing on April 20 and 22—concerning how organic food is produced. Also, by April 5, sign up to speak (3 minutes) at the virtual NOSB hearing. Written comments must be submitted through Regulations.gov.

As always, there are many important issues on the NOSB agenda this Spring. For a complete discussion, see Keeping Organic Strong and the Spring 2021 issues page.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is considering a petition to allow the antibiotic kasugamycin to be used in organic apple and pear production. Earlier NOSB members struggled long and hard to erase the stigma of antibiotic use in organic fruit production—something that was left over from the transition of so many chemical-intensive fruit orchards after the Alar “scare” in which apple and apple products were contaminated with the cancer-causing plant growth regulator daminozide. Do we now want to step on that treadmill again? The reasons for rejecting the kasugamycin petition are the same as the reasons for eliminating the antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline in crop production.

Now that we have learned what a pandemic looks and feels like, with the astounding levels of infection, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, we must take serious steps to prevent another pandemic on the horizon—this one tied to bacterial resistance to antibiotics. An important article in The Lancet points to a “looming potential pandemic” resulting from a “rise in multidrug-resistant bacterial infections that are undetected, underdiagnosed, and increasingly untreatable, [which] threatens the health of people in the USA and globally.”

When streptomycin and tetracycline were presented for their final votes by the Crops Subcommittee, the committee was unanimous that the antibiotics needed to go—the question was how fast. How fast could growers of these crops get over their dependence on these antibiotics that pose threats to human health and the environment and are unpopular with organic consumers? Streptomycin and tetracycline are gone, and we do not need another antibiotic.

Tell the NOSB to keep organic strong and keep antibiotics out of organic.

As always, the NOSB is considering many issues that affect the integrity of organic products. Other important issues are the use of ion exchange technology in processing organic food and the use of so-called “biodegradable biobased mulch film.”

Biodegradable Biobased Mulch Film (BBMF) was approved by the NOSB for use in organic production in October 2012, and the listing was finalized September 30, 2014 as “Biodegradable biobased mulch film as defined in §205.2. Must be produced without organisms or feedstock derived from excluded methods.” The definition required that BBMF meet specific requirements for compostability, biodegradation, and biobased content. Subsequently, the Organic Material Research Institute (OMRI) found that there are no products meeting all of the requirements set by the board. The NOSB is now considering a proposal to change the definition to allow BBMF that is not 100% biobased. BBMF is not removed from the field by the grower, but is tilled into the soil. The tillage process purposefully creates microplastics, with the intention that the action of soil organisms will degrade these small particles. However, as reported in OMRI’s 2016 Supplemental Technical Review, many growers report that fragments persist in the soil. OMRI reports research showing that the BBMFs do not completely degrade and may degrade more slowly when tilled under the surface, that they contain components that may be hazardous, and particles may adsorb persistent toxins. Microplastics may be incorporated into plant and animal tissues. Organic mulches have always been a central aspect of organic production, and reliance on synthetic mulches for functions that can be performed by organic mulch is not compatible with organic production. The NOSB should not redefine BBMF in a way that encourages microplastic contamination of the soil.

Ion exchange is a reaction in which an element from the treated substance is removed and replaced by a different element. Although the most familiar example of ion exchange is water softening, in which the “hard” minerals calcium and magnesium are replaced with sodium, the technology is widely used in food processing. Food processors run liquids, such as sugar cane juice, through a column of plastic beads charged with a substance that replaces an undesirable substance in the liquid with a different chemical. Ion exchange produces a chemical change in the food, which can subsequently only be regarded as synthetic under organic rules—and, therefore, be limited to less than 5% in food labeled “organic.” Products treated with ion exchange must be treated as synthetic substances. Resins and recharge chemicals must be on the product label.

Submit Comments Now.

Need help in submitting comments? Regulations.gov requires more than a single click, but it is not difficult. Please feel free to cut-and-paste the three comments above into Regulations.gov and add or adjust the text to personalize it. See this instructional video. (Regulations.gov has changed its look since this video was made.)

Thank you for keeping organic strong!

 

Share

4 Responses to “Keep Antibiotics Out of Organic—Keep Organic Strong on Range of Issues; Comment by April 5”

  1. 1
    Rob Thompson Says:

    STOP POISONING OUR FOOD!

  2. 2
    Cecile Lemay Says:

    Keep Antibiotics Out of Organic—Keep Organic Strong!

  3. 3
    Tara Lakshman Says:

    Synthetic Antibiotics are not organic and will have harmful side effects to the natural biome of the orchard as well as to people working on the farm. Because there is a healthy balance of bacteria it seems plausible to spray with healthy bacteria, for instance from compost tea, etc. There are other solutions.

  4. 4
    Virginia Heick Says:

    PLEASE –

    Keep organic strong and keep antibiotics out of organic!

    We need CLEAN FOOD, and for that, we need CLEAN water, CLEAN soil & CLEAN air.

    Key word is – CLEAN. Keep organic strong – NO antibiotics;
    NO synthetic chemicals; NO hydroponics!

    Organic, Biodynamic, Regenerative farming offer the best hope for a healthy, sustainable future ~ that thrives!

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