WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2012 – The National Organic Program published a final rule
today that addresses the use of three substances in organic agriculture
with specific limitations that would support production and processing
of organic products.
August 3, the allowance for the use of tetracycline in organic apple
and pear production will be extended until Oct. 21, 2014, providing two
years for the development of alternatives for fire blight control.
Additionally, producers will have the option of using formic acid as a
means of controlling varroa and tracheal mites in organic honey bee
operations, while processors will have the option of using attapulgite, a
nonsynthetic processing aid, for purification of plant and animal oils.
has been allowed in organic crop production since 2002 solely to
control fire blight, a bacterial disease affecting large populations of
apples and pears. Given the high susceptibility of the crops to the
disease, and in light of tetracycline’s proven effectiveness to treat
it, the National Organic Standards Board recommended that the substance
continue to be allowed for a period. However, the expiration date should
encourage the development of options for biological controls and also
help cultivate fire blight-resistant apple and pear varieties.
organic principles require the use of biological, physical or
mechanical methods or natural controls to prevent or control crop pests,
weeds, and diseases, the organic regulations permit use of carefully
evaluated inputs when natural methods are insufficient to address
critical issues of production.
acid was petitioned to be allowed as a pesticide to suppress varroa
mites in honeybees. Varroa mite infestations can quickly destroy a hive
and spread easily to nearby hives. Consistent with the NOSB
recommendation issued at its October 2010, meeting, the final rule
published today allows the use of formic acid in organic livestock
production to control these mites within honeybee hives.
attapulgite was petitioned as a nonsynthetic processing aid to purify
vegetable and animal oils. Attapulgite is the product of naturally
occurring attapulgus clay that is mined and subsequently dried and
pulverized into a fine powder. It removes impurities to improve the
appearance, flavor and stability of plant and animal oils. Considering
that attapulgite may be a preferable alternative to bentonite clay,
which is currently on the National List, the NOSB recommended allowing
attapulgite as a processing aid in handling plant and animal oils.
Consistent with the Board’s recommendation, the final rule allows the
use of attapulgite as a processing aid in the handling of plant and
animal oils only.
final rule amends the listings on the National List of Allowed and
Prohibited Substances (National List), a subpart of the USDA’s organic
standards that identifies synthetic substances that may be used in
organic production and nonsynthetic (natural) substances that may not.
These changes reflect recommendations by the National Organic Standards
Board, which advises the Secretary of Agriculture about the National
List and whose recommendations are necessary for the National Organic
Program to implement any changes to this section of the organic
Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and National Organic Program
regulations specifically prohibit the use of any synthetic substance in
organic production and handling unless the substance is on the National
List. Allowance of these substances is based on the Board’s technical
review to ensure their compatibility with sustainable agriculture,
minimal adverse impact on the environment and to human health, and
essentialness to organic production with consideration of alternative,
further information about the rule, please contact Melissa Bailey,
Ph.D., Director, Standards Division, Telephone: (202) 720-3252; Fax:
(202) 205-7808. The rule is also available at www.regulations.gov
(search term “AMS-NOP-11-0058”).