A communication from the organic4um:
Facilitated by Eric Kindberg, certified organic farmer
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Eric Kindberg, Editor,
Ripplebrook Organic Growers, Inc.
Certified organic farm, Fairfield, Iowa
In our discussions of the proposed rule, it appears to me we should ground
our critique to that which is in conflict with OFPA and the intent as found
in the House-Senate Conferee Report and the Senate Committee document
accompanying the Senate version of OFPA.
There is a single section of OFPA worth noting, because the USDA/NOP is
offering in this proposed rule an assortment of new concepts never developed
in the organic community.
§2113 OTHER PRODUCTION AND HANDLING PRACTICES.
If a production or handling practice is not prohibited or otherwise
restricted under this title, such practice shall be permitted unless it is
determined that such practice would be inconsistent with the applicable
organic certification program.
In my communciation over the years regarding implementing a National Organic
Program, it has become apparent that many people do not understand:
--Implementing an act of congress is not developing new organic standards,
guidelines and systems of certification and compliance, but implementing what
has been legally institutionalized.
--And, USDA is only authorized to implement what is in the act of congress,
Secondly, once it is understood the public comment period is for the public
to critique how the proposed rule differs from the act of congress, in
language, concepts, intent, than we must know OFPA intimately to have any say
on the Final Rule.
From years of discussion, I have become aware that many members of the
organic community appear to not understand basic concepts that are the
foundation of the language and intent of OFPA.
Here is my list. You may have others.
A. What is actually certified, and, how the geographic description of the
certified area for which application is made is drawn up is extremely
important to integrity of the organically produced product. Conventional
farming or conventional pest control can occur very close to a certified farm
or handling operation as long as prohibited substances do not penetrate the
certified area. Buffer strips for farms and non-penetration of prohibited
substances on handling operations.
B. That all synthetic substances are prohibited to contact or be an
ingredient in an organically produced product--period. With the exceptions
so allowed under the National List criteria and guidelines. The criteria for
which substances can be an exception to the complete prohibition on
synthetics is clearly written in OFPA. And so is the possible exception of
up to 5% of non-synthetic, but not organically produced in the 95/5.
C. All import organically produced products must have "equivlency" determined
to be labeled and sold in the US. How is that determined, by whom? (b)
IMPORTED PRODUCTS. Imported agricultural products may be sold or labeled as
organically produced if the Secretary determines that such products have been
produced and handled under an organic certification program that provides
safeguards and guidelines governing the production and handling of such
products that are at least equivalent to the requirements of this title.
D. "organically produced" is the 95/5 ingredient and labeling category. Up
to 5% can be non-synthetic, but not organically produced ingredients that
have been included in the National List. OFPA states no synthetic substance
can contact or be an ingredient in an organically produced product.
E. The two labeling categories of less than 50% and at least 50%, both which
only allow "organic" to describe specific ingredients in a processed food are
absolutely and completely exempt from regulatory control other than the
F. The determination of whether a substance is synthetic as defined in OFPA
is of paramount importance to the outcome of each National List petition and
how certified organic farms and handling operations operate. OFPA defines
"synthetic" and GMOs and their derivatives are "synthetic." GMO's must be
determined as "synthetic," not an "excluded methods." Defining them as
"excluded methods" is leading everyone down the wrong road.
G. Every farm or handling operation in the US labeling or selling a product
as "organically produced" (other than retailers who do not process) must be
certified to do so. No one is exempt except a producer with less than $5000
of total farm sales.
H. The NOSB with its public policy development protocol (which it instituted
early in its existence) is the forum for innovating new changes to the
National List and standards, as long as they conform to OFPA and what the
NOSB through the public process decides as "consistent with organic farming
We are implementing an authorized regulatory system, not innovating one.
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