Hot topics at the Spring 2021 NOSB Meeting

March 25, 2021

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) typically meets twice a year to take public comments, to discuss agenda items, and to vote on recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture in a public forum. We’ve prepared a list of hot topics selected from the items that are scheduled to be addressed at the NOSB’s upcoming spring meeting to be held online on April 28-30, 2021.

In preparation, the NOSB is accepting written comments from now until April 5. This is also the cutoff date to register to provide oral comments during one of the two webinars that will be held the week immediately before the meeting (Tuesday, April 20, or Thursday, April 22, from noon – 5pm EST).


Crop and Livestock:

Both proposals include changes to definitions and associated annotations on the National List that reflect technical requirements for compliance.

  • Paper-Based Planting Aids (such as planting pots) – vote on proposal to allow with restrictions on biobased and cellulose content 

  • Biodegradable Biobased Mulch – vote on proposal to allow biodegradable mulches that are not 100% biobased.


  • Ion Exchange Filtration – vote on proposal addressing the use of resins, membranes, and recharge materials

2023 Sunset Materials Review (Crops, Livestock, Handling):

This year, the NOSB will review over 30 inputs currently included on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances to determine whether the substance should continue to be listed or should be removed in advance of its sunset date in 2023. Some inputs up for review that are commonly listed in Organic System Plans include:

  • Crops Materials – copper sulfate (algicide), chlorine materials (sanitizer, disinfectant), peracetic acid (disinfectant, disease control), EPA List 3 Inerts (passive pheromone dispensers), calcium chloride (foliar spray for physiological disorders)  

  • Livestock Materials – mineral oil (intestinal compaction treatment) and nutritive supplements (injectable vitamins and minerals)

  • Handling Materials – animal enzymes (catalyst for biological processes, e.g. rennet for cheese production), carrageenan (gelling agent, emulsifier, thickener), chlorine materials (sanitizer, disinfectant) 

If you use any of the materials scheduled for sunset in 2023, it’s important to provide any input or comments you may have to explain why these inputs are still necessary for organic production by the April 5th comment deadline. Your feedback will be considered and have the potential to influence the Sunset Materials Review Committee proposal and vote to occur at the October 2021 meeting.

If you prefer not to submit individual comments to the NOSB, the Organic Trade Association is collecting information via sunset surveys about the necessity/essentiality of materials scheduled for sunset.  The OTA will deliver the information collected from its survey in a summarized, anonymous format to the NOSB.


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