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National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)
meeting in Portland, Oregon, April 9 -11, 2013

By Ed Maltby, Executive Director, NODPA

The meeting of the National Organic Standards Board, which occurs twice a year, provides a public forum for the organic community to weigh in on issues concerning organic production and processing. The upcoming meeting will take place at the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower, 921 Southwest 6th Avenue, Portland, OR 97204.

During the meeting, the board will address several petitions pertaining to changes to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, including amino acids proposed for use in organic pet food, sulfuric acid, polyoxin D zinc salt, and the Crops Sub- committee proposal to remove the existing expiration date of October 21, 2014 for the use of oxytetracycline in organic apple and pear production and replace that with a new expiration date of October 21, 2016. This proposal will effectively extend the use of antibiotics in organic fruit production for at least another 5 years as it will take time for the National Organic Program and the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) to implement the decision. NODPA recognizes the impact that the removal of this production aid will have on growers but also understands that the process of removing the use of antibiotics has taken many years and its continued use threatens the integrity of the organic seal as a marketing program for selling organically certified product. Organic livestock producers recognized this many years ago and advocated for the exclusion of antibiotics in livestock and have since developed alternative production methods.

The Board will also consider the Interim Report from the National Organic Standards Board Livestock Subcommittee on behalf of the Vaccines Made with Excluded Methods Working Group. This is a rather long title for a small group of folks who are battling their way through the science and practicality of what vaccines can be used in organic livestock production. If you know about genomic integration, transposes and plasmid vector, this is a report for you! The board will also hear updates from the aquaculture working group as part of their ongoing work on organic aquaculture. The agenda of topics and current proposals are available at www.ams.usda.gov/nosbmeetings.

The NOSB is an advisory committee of organic industry, producer, and stakeholder representatives established by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. The board recommends whether a substance should be allowed or prohibited in organic production or handling, assists in developing standards for substances to be used in organic production, and advises the Secretary of Agriculture on other aspects of the organic regulations. Twice a year in the spring and fall, the board convenes to listen to public comments, discuss specific items pertaining to organic agriculture, and vote on recommendations for the National Organic Program to consider.