USDA organic notes
- USDA National Organic Program site.
- Only farmers that sell more than $5000 in organic products need an Organic System Plan. Sect 205.101.a.1. But they must still follow USDA organic procedures.
- 3 years must have passed since the land had non-organic crops on it, in order for the land to be used for organic crops.
- Items using the organic label must contain at least 95% certified organic ingredients.
USDA Allowable items
- If one step in a company process has been certified as "organic", the certification remains even if they change their process to a non-organic process. And the company could get fined. Section 2015.100b.
- Only allows natural flavors. Sect. 205.605a.
- Allowed when commercial organic products are not available: non-organic casings, like for sausage; celery powder; chia; konjac (which I see more and more in sausage); corn start and sweet potato starch; and many other vegetable colors and products. Sect 205.606.
- Synthetic products allowed when producing crops: copper sulfate can be used in rice fields once per 24 month period; soap-based herbicides; plastic mulch and covers (which could contain BPA and other phthalates); sucrose octanoate esters; ethylene gas to affect pineapple flowering; Sect 205.601.
- Synthetic items allowed when producing organic livestock: atropine; vaccines; butorphanal; flunixin; furosemide; fenbendazole; ivermectin; moxidectin; poloxalene; tolazoline; xylazine; lidocaine; Sect 205.603.
- Non-organic seeds may be used if organic seeds are not available.
- Non-organic yeast, when the end product is for human consumption, can be used if organic yeast is not available. Sect. 205.605a.
- Ethylene can be used to ripen tomatoes or other items. Synthetic vitamins are allowed as are tocopherols. Sect. 205.605b.
- Ionizing radiation and sewage sludge not allowed. Sect 205.105 f and g.
- Strychnine. Sect 205.604.
- Synthetic fertilizers.
- Growth hormones.
- GMOs not allowed. GMO seed cannot be used and cows cannot eat GMO feed. Source.
USDA NOP organic and production standards. Link to PDF.
Non-GMO Project Verified (NGPV)
Non-GMO Verified is not the same as USDA Organic. Taken from version 13 (Feb 2016) of the Non-GMO Project standars. PDF here, 37 pages.
NGPV = Non-GMO Project Verified
- Major ingredient: Any ingredient that composes 5% or more of a product, or which defines the product. Ex: a "quinoa chip" that contains 55% quinoa and 20% corn, both quinoa and corn are "major ingredients".
What must be tested and comply with their standards:
- All animal feed.
- All microbials including those for fermentation (like yeast for wine) and for silage.
- Both processed and unprocessed (raw) plant products.
- All animal products including meat, eggs, dairy, etc.
- Dietary supplements, vitamins, etc.
- Personal care products like lotions, makeup, etc.
- Packaging that is immersed or combined with liquids for human consumption. Like tea bags and coffee filters.
- Activities: farm production, harvest, post-harvest, handling, storage, distribution, processing, packaging.
- Baccillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is used must not be genetically engineered.(Bt is a known poison to many insects and mammals, including humans.)
- NGPV products must be genetically tested before the producer gets to claim NGPV.
- Each farm must be inspected annually as much each restaurant claiming NGPV.
- Honey: The bee forage area must be "sufficiently free" or GMOs within 4 miles of the hives. (Wow, that's a tough one!)
- Third-party processors do not have to be NGPV but do have to have a system in place which avoids GMO contamination.
- Absence of all GMO items in a product is the final goal. Less than 0.25% of seed used must be non-GMO. But if the seed is listed in Appendix B, 0% of the seed can be GMO. App B are very high risk crops like soy and corn. Less than 0.9% of items in food, makeup, supplements, or anything used on the human skin must be non-GMO. See table in section V.A.1.