In September, the USDA announced changes to its interpretation of
the “sunset” provision in the Organic Foods
Production Act of 1990. These changes override the powers of the National
Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and make it easier for food producers to use
synthetics in organic food production.
Previously, any exemptions from organic standards were set to
expire, or “sunset,” on a specific date—unless they were reinstated by a
“decisive” two-thirds majority vote of the
NOSB. Now it’s just the reverse: a synthetic material can be permitted to remain
in an organic food indefinitely unless a two-thirds majority votes to remove it
from the exempted list. This
change allowed the board to vote last week to permit the continued use of quite
a number of synthetic substances in organic production–—a clear
victory for producers who want to be considered organic without sacrificing
their bottom line.
More than 100 synthetics will be up for sunset consideration in
2015. Tell the USDA to enforce the sunset provision of the OFPA as it was
synthetic products to remain after their “sunset” date only after public debate
and a two-thirds vote of the NOSB. In addition, tell the USDA to use a public
and transparent process for all major changes to organic standards by
publishing proposed changes in the Federal Register, and actively seeking public input and
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comments if you have the time!