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What is the Sunset Review Process?

Once an input has been added to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) must review the input every five years to confirm that the material continues to meet the National List criteria. This review process is known as the “Sunset Review” process.

Each year, NOSB identifies which materials on the National List will be reviewed. The Sunset Review process must be completed prior to the material’s Sunset Date, which is the five years from its initial listing or most recent renewal on the National List. Therefore, NOSB reviews these materials well in advance to ensure there is time to complete the entire Sunset Review process prior to the material’s Sunset Date.

Weigh-in on Current Sunset Review      

There are two public comment opportunities that inform the Sunset Review process. The first opportunity occurs at the spring meeting when NOSB accepts public comments on material undergoing Sunset Review that year. NOSB uses the information collected through the first round of public comment periods to inform the subcommittee proposals that are presented for a second public comment at the fall meeting. The full Board takes the feedback from both comment periods into consideration along with its own research, and votes at the fall meeting on whether to renew their allowance on the National List for another five years.

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National List Criteria

During the Sunset Review process, the NOSB determines whether the inputs up for review should remain on the National List criteria: whether the material is necessary or essential because of the unavailability of natural or organic alternatives; whether the material is harmful to human health or the environment; and whether the material is compatible with organic farming and handling. To inform its review, NOSB reviews technical information, public comments, and any new y new information about the substance’s impact to human health or the environment, any new proven, natural alternatives, or other information concerning the National List criteria. Through this process, NOSB can remove inputs from the National List based on adverse impact on human health or the environment, or the availability of a natural or organic alternative.

Visit our National List webpage for more details         

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NOSB Voting Procedures

As specified in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), two-thirds of the votes cast at an NOSB meeting at which a quorum is present shall be decisive of any motion [§2119(i)]. Based on a 2013 NOP clarification of the NOSB sunset voting procedure, the full NOSB must vote on a motion to remove a substance from the National List (instead of voting on a motion to renew the substance). This procedure ensures that changes to the National List are based on a decisive vote of the Board. For sunset materials, this means that two-thirds of NOSB members must vote in favor of removing a material for USDA to have the authority to amend the National List. As there are 15 NOSB members, 10 votes in favor are needed to pass any recommendation to remove a material from the National List.

During the sunset process, materials can only be renewed or removed from the National List. Any other changes, clarifications, or restrictions to listed materials must be conducted through the petition process, and be recommended by the subcommittee through a proposal that is separate from the Sunset Review process.

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Completing the Sunset Review Process

After NOSB completes its Sunset review and provides a recommendation, USDA either renews or removes the input to complete the Sunset process.

If the NOSB confirms the substance continues to meet required criteria, then the NOSB’s review of that substance is complete. USDA may then publish a Federal Register notice announcing the listing will remain active for five years.

If the NOSB determines the substance no longer meets required criteria, it can take a vote to remove the substance. If two thirds of the NOSB agree with the new data, then the NOSB may recommend the substance’s removal from the National List. If USDA accepts the NOSB’s recommendation, then USDA may initiate rulemaking to remove the substance from the National List. This process includes an additional opportunity for public comments.

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Learn More 

OTA Resource: Sunset Review             Q & A about the Sunset process              Federal Register Notice on the Sunset process               National List Sunset Review Timeline


Contact
Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs  
(503) 798-3294
Johanna Mirenda
Farm Policy Director
(202) 812-7704