Since I drafted a lot of the language that you cite, and was also closely
involved in the discussions that led up to it, I think I can claim to have
more knowledge of the intent behind it than you can. Both of the
statements that you quote are true, even if you don't want to believe it.
The major criticism that can rightfully be leveled at our language is lack of
clarity. There are nevertheless some good reasons for the confusing
definitions that were developed, many of which relate to the fact that the
difference between 'synthetic' and 'natural' is hardly as simple and
clearcut as you claim.
In the case of biosolids, the original materials clearly are chemically
altered by their treatment, and cannot be chemically or physically
segregated from the synthetic substances with which they are
combined. Whole new compounds may be created in this soup. This
DOES fit the definition of synthetic. You can further verify that we did
not intend biosolids to be considered 'natural' substances by referring to
the list of substances that were reviewed and categorized as natural
(non-synthetic), and therefore permitted for use in organic production.
This list appears on page 65888 of the Federal Register of 12/10/97, and
does not include biosolids.
In any event, the Secretary of Agriculture has already promised that
sewage sludge will be explicitly prohibited in any future proposed
regulations. I don't know how much clearer that could be.
USDA National Organic Program staff
>>> firstname.lastname@example.org@i 11/18/98 12:37pm >>>
Below I quote two related statements which deny the facts as
in the language of the NOP proposal. I have numbered them to simplify
> From: Grace J Gershuny <Grace_J.Gershuny@usda.gov>
> USDA National Organic Program Staff
> One thing that should
> be clarified is that.....
> (1) ...the proposed rule did not, in either its "draft" form sent
> to OMB in June of 1997 or the one that got published, allow for the use
> of biosolids in organic agriculture.
> (2) What we did was to consider biosolids to be a synthetic product,....
> .... which
> would have to appear on the National List in order to be allowed to be
> used by organic producers. The NOSB recommended against placing
> biosolids on the National List, and USDA agreed with that
I cannot allow these false statements to pass unchallenged. This is a
matter which can be, and should be, resolved by a simple appeal to the
facts, which, happily, are available to everyone via the Internet.
In the NOP proposal, anything which was "not considered synthetic"
allowed, thus, by failing to specifically exclude biosolids, they WERE
in fact allowed under the proposal, in contrast with statement (1),
On page 65873 of the Federal Register of 12-16-97, column 2, it says
"plant or animal materials that only have been treated or mixed with
synthetic substances, but not chemically altered by such treatment, are
not considered synthetic under the definition provided by section
2103(21) of the OFPA (7 U.S.C. 6502(21)), and are therefore not
prohibited under the Act."
This above line distills into one sentence the profound difference
between the English-speaking organic consumer and US citizen, and the
crafters of this proposal. With this line of reasoning, I could take my
totally clean-stream backyard leaf compost, mix it with PCBs (PCBs being
admittedly synthetic) and this mixture will not be "considered
synthetic." After all, PCBs are not considered "active" under FIFRA,
and anyway, their presence is not intentional!
If this was NOT intended by the USDA-AMS in the writing of this
proposal, I am truly at a loss to provide any alternative and more
Biosolids are the primary example of "plant or animal materials that
only have been treated or mixed with synthetic substances," and as
would have been permitted under the proposal. Thus, statement (2)
appears false as well.
The proposal made use of a lot of terminology which served no purpose
other than to obscure the very simple categorization of natural vs.
synthetic. This resulted in a proposed rule wherein synthetic
substances appeared to be excluded (this is simple, and it is what the
public believes and wants)...
...except if these synthetic compounds were extraneous, incidental,
necessary, unintentional, unknown, unidentified, undetectable,
non-active, inert, or non-agricultural! To further complicate and
obfuscate the issue, the foregoing adjectives were not used in any way
which would be understood by the competent speaker of the English
language. Instead, peculiar regulatory definitions were used, which in
many cases actually contradict conventional usage. Applying Occam's
razor to my analysis of this situation, I must conclude that this usage
is in fact intended to mislead the public into thinking that they are
getting what they asked for, while reserving the legal right to give
them the opposite of what they want without their knowledge. That is
simply fraud, and this is why the public, myself included, is so angry.
I welcome any alternate explanation, provided that it includes the
actual language used in the proposal.
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command