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It’s that time of year again! Share your story and help shape the future of organic.

NOSB Tentative Meeting Agenda Announced

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently announced the tentative agenda for the fall 2015 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting to be held in Stowe, Vermont from October 26-29, 2015.

Prior to the meeting, the USDA invites the public to comment on what should be included in and excluded from the organic standards. NOSB—a committee of certified organic farmers, processors, and other representatives—reviews these public comments, then recommends changes and adjustments to the organic standards to the USDA.

At the October meeting this year, NOSB will review various petitions related to changes to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for organic production and processing. In addition to these petitions, NOSB will complete the review of the 2017 Sunset Materials.

You can find a detailed summary of the items included on the 2015 October NOSB meeting agenda, as well as more information on the sunset review process, at the end of this post. The full set of discussion documents, materials descriptions, and questions posed by the NOSB provides more background on each item to be discussed during the 2015 October NOSB meeting.

Tell Your Story and Help Shape the Future of Organic

USDA truly wants to hear from you. Submit your comments on the agenda of the October 2015 NOSB meeting in writing or in person at one of NOSB’s oral testimony sessions.

Written Comments

You can submit written comments on this meeting’s proposals until 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, October 8, 2015, at (click on the “Comment Now!” button).

Oral Testimony: In Person or Via Webinar

You can sign up to present oral comments in person at the meeting itself on October 26-29, 2015.

NOSB will also hear oral testimony virtually via webinar. Register to give webinar testimony on October 13 or October 20 from 1- p.m. EST via the NOSB oral comment sign-up webpage.

NOSB will accept in-person and webinar oral testimony registrations until 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, October 8, 2015.

More Information

Visit the NOSB Meeting 2015 webpage for more information on the October 2015 NOSB meeting.

Summary of the 2015 October NOSB Meeting Agenda*

2017 Sunset Materials Review

One function of NOSB is to advise the USDA on which substances should be allowed or prohibited in organic farming and processing based on criteria specified in the Organic Foods Production Act. In general, organic regulations prohibit the use of synthetic substances and allow the use of non-synthetic substances. The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (the National List) spells out the exceptions to these rules, naming allowed synthetic substances and prohibited non-synthetic for organic production/processing.

NOSB reviews every substance on the National List every five years. This review process is referred to as Sunset Review. During the October meeting, NOSB will review the 2017 Sunset Materials, which include the substances on the original National List.

NOSB subcommittees have voted to propose the removal of various 2017 Sunset Materials from the National List. NOSB requests public comment on the proposed removals.

2017 Sunset Materials proposed for removal from the National List:

Crop Materials:

  • Soap-based algicide/demossers – used to control algae and moss build-up on irrigation systems
  • Lignin sulfonate – used as a floating agent in postharvest handling of organic products
  • Ethylene gas – used for regulation of pineapple flowering
  • Sodium silicate – used as a floating agent in postharvest handling, as well as for tree fruit and fiber processing

Livestock Materials:

  • Furosemide – used to treat edema and hypertension in livestock
  • Parasiticide, Ivermectin – used to control internal parasites in organic breeder stock and dairy animals only

Handling Materials:

  • Magnesium carbonate – used as a filter aid, flow agent, anti-caking agent, dying agent, bleach additive, and color enhancer in “made with organic” products
  • Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) – consumed directly or added to food products
  • Dillweed oil – used in the manufacture of dill pickles
  • Galangal, frozen – a rhizome in the ginger family used in various Asian cuisines
  • Inulin-oligofructose enriched – used to increase calcium bioavailability, as a soluble dietary fiber, non-caloric sweetener, and for texture effects on food
  • Lemongrass, frozen – used as an herb in various Asian cuisines
  • Orange pulp, dried – used as a moisture retention agent and fat substitute
  • Peppers (Chipotle chile) – added to food products as a flavoring to give products a distinct hot (spicy) and smoky chili flavor
  • Turkish bay leaves – used as an herb to flavor food products
  • Whey protein concentrate – used as a source of protein, as a fat replacer, and as a texturizer
  • Specific colors used for coloring food products:
    • Black/purple carrot juice color
    • Blueberry juice color
    • Carrot juice color
    • Cherry juice color
    • Chokeberry/aronia juice color
    • Elderberry juice color
    • Grape juice color
    • Grape skin extract color
    • Paprika color
    • Purple potato juice color
    • Red radish extract color
    • Saffron extract color
    • Turmeric extract color

2017 Sunset Materials with split votes:

For a number of materials, the subcommittee’s vote to maintain or remove the material from the National List was split. NOSB requests more information for these materials, including:

Crop Materials:

  • Humic acids – used as a soil amendment to make micronutrients more available to plants
  • Microcrystalline cheesewax – used in log-grown mushroom production

Livestock Materials:

  • Mineral oil – used as a topical treatment, external parasiticide, or local anesthetic
  • Parasiticides, Moxidectin – used to control internal parasites in organic breeder stock and dairy animals only

Handling Materials:

  • Potassium phosphate – used in milk and dairy products
  • Celery powder – used in processed meat products
  • Fish oil – used in processing to increase the content of omega-3 and fatty acids
  • Konjac flour – used as a binder, gelling agent, thickener, and stabilizer

Proposals and Discussion Documents

NOSB also requests public comment on a number of additional proposals and discussion documents to be considered during the October 2015 NOSB meeting.

Proposals and discussion documents considered during the 2015 October NOSB Meeting:

Crops Subcommittee:

  • Proposal: Annotation Change for Micronutrients
  • Proposal: Annotation Changes for EPA List for Inerts
  • Proposal: Laminarin (seaweed extract used for disease control) – petitioned
  • Proposal: Lignin Sulfonate (floating agent in postharvest handling) – petitioned
  • Proposal: Sulfuric Acid (solubilizing agent to make micronutrients more available for plant uptake) – petitioned
  • Proposal: Brown Seaweed Extracts (aquatic plant extracts used as a fertilizer) – petitioned

Livestock Subcommittee:

  • Discussion Document: Annotation Changes Lidocaine and Procaine
  • Discussion Document: Annotation Change for Parasiticides for Livestock Production

Handling Subcommittee:

  • Proposal: Reclassification of Alginic Acid (used as a stabilizer and defoaming agent)
  • Proposal: Reclassification of Carnauba Wax (used to coat fruits and vegetables, candies, and as a base to chewing gum)
  • Proposal: Sodium Lactate and Potassium Lactate (used as antimicrobial agents) – Petitioned
  • Proposal: Flavors – Petitioned annotation change
  • Proposal: Ancillary Substances Permitted in Microorganisms and Dairy Cultures
  • Proposal: Ancillary Substances Permitted in Pectin
  • Proposal: Ancillary Substances Permitted in Yeast

Materials Subcommittee:

  • Proposal: Research Priorities
  • Proposal: Prevention Strategy Guidance for Excluded Methods Policy

Development Subcommittee:

  • Policy and Procedure Manual Revisions


* See the full set of discussion documents, materials descriptions, and questions posed by the NOSB for more background on each item to be discussed during the October 2015 NOSB meeting.