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Fall 2016 Meeting


OTA’s Fall 2016 NOSB Summary Report is now available. 

The Fall 2016 meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) took place November 16-18 at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, MO. The primary purpose of NOSB meetings is to provide an opportunity for organic stakeholders to give input on proposed NOSB recommendations and discussion items. The meetings also allow NOSB to receive updates from USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) on issues pertaining to organic agriculture.

Over the course of three days, NOSB, under the leadership of Chair Tracy Favre, voted or took action on 19 proposals and 15 sunset 2018 inputs and evaluated 8 discussion documents and reports. NOSB received 2,789 written comments prior to the meeting and listened to oral testimony from approximately 200 commenters (over 13 hours of oral comments) on a wide range of issues. Commenters provided wide-ranging perspectives on a number of topics including hydroponics, carrageenan, and how to ensure organic remains non-GMO as seed breeding technologies advance.

The most dramatic range of commenters came to provide opinions on whether hydroponics align with organic principles or not. These opinions came from long-standing organic farmers who have grown organically in the soil for over 30 years to new entrepreneurial innovators whose high-tech hydroponic systems are testing the limits of the organic production standards. Ultimately, NOSB decided to continue its work on a formal proposal around hydroponics, but it did pass a resolution that reaffirmed what NOSB recommended in 2010 which prohibited hydroponic systems using entirely water based substrates. NOSB’s crops subcommittee will continue to work on a set of recommended standards that pertain to crops grown in containers and in greenhouses.

NOSB also decided to recommend removal of carrageenan from the National List. Upon approval and completion of USDA rulemaking, carrageenan will no longer be allowed in organic food products. The outcomes of the meeting reaffirm the “no growth trend” that we’ve seen on the National List for the last decade, with NOSB denying 9 petitions to add synthetic inputs to the National List.

Additionally, NOSB extended a huge thanks to 5 members who completed their 5 year terms, and welcomed the 5 new appointments for 2017. For a complete run-down of votes, proposals, and discussion documents, take a look at OTA’s NOSB Summary Report. Live coverage of the meeting was also provided on OTA’s Twitter Account.

OTA’s Fall 2016 NOSB Summary Report   OTA Summary of all Proposals and Discussion Documents    Preliminary Meeting Agenda    Meeting Materials (All Proposals and Discussion Documents) OTA's Fall 2016 NOSB Resource Booklet



Antioxidants Save the Day!     Leavening Agents and the Role of Phosphates     Celery Powder Working Group Update     Nitrogen Cycle in Organic Farming Simplified     Introduction to 'Bioponics' and Container Production


OTA submitted its final comments shaped by feedback from OTA members on multiple important NOSB topics in time to meet the October 26 deadline. OTA’s sister organization, The Organic Center, will also be providing oral comment on NOSB’s 2016 Research Priorities proposal during the scheduled webinar on Thursday, November 3 and OTA will be providing oral comments at the in-person meeting November 16-18. OTA’s NOSB Resource Booklet for the Fall 2016 meeting will be available the week of November 6.
Materials Subcommittee

Livestock Subcommittee

Policy Development Subcommittee

Crops Subcommittee

Handling Subcommittee


The National Organic Standards Board was created through the Organic Foods Production Act, a sub-section of the 1990 Farm Bill. The Board is charged with the task of assisting the Secretary of Agriculture on which substances should be allowed or prohibited in organic farming and processing. This 15-person citizen advisory board brings together volunteers from around the United States. It is made up of four farmers/growers, two handlers/processors, one retailer, one scientist, three consumer/public interest advocates, three environmentalists, and one USDA accredited certifying agent. 


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