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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

USDA "organic" vs Non-GMO Project verified

Loopholes and notes about the USDA NOP and Non-GMO-Project. The USDA organic label does not mean all products in the item, or all products used to produce the item have an organic origin.

USDA "organic"

USDA organic notes
  1. USDA National Organic Program site. 
  2. 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. 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.  
  4. Items using the organic label must contain at least 95% certified organic ingredients.

USDA Allowable items

  1. 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.
  2. Only allows natural flavors. Sect. 205.605a.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. Synthetic items allowed when producing organic livestock: atropine; vaccines; butorphanal;  flunixin; furosemide; fenbendazole; ivermectin; moxidectin; poloxalene; tolazoline; xylazine; lidocaine; Sect 205.603.
  6. Non-organic seeds may be used if organic seeds are not available. 
USDA Not Allowed
  1. Non-organic yeast, when the end product is for human consumption, can be used if organic yeast is not available. Sect. 205.605a.
  2. Ethylene can be used to ripen tomatoes or other items. Synthetic vitamins are allowed as are tocopherols. Sect. 205.605b.
  3. Ionizing radiation and sewage sludge not allowed. Sect 205.105 f and g
  4. Strychnine. Sect 205.604.
  5. Synthetic fertilizers.  
  6. Growth hormones. 
  7. 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

  1. 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:
  1. All animal feed. 
  2. All microbials including those for fermentation (like yeast for wine) and for silage. 
  3. Both processed and unprocessed (raw) plant products. 
  4. All animal products including meat, eggs, dairy, etc. 
  5. Dietary supplements, vitamins, etc. 
  6. Personal care products like lotions, makeup, etc. 
  7. Packaging that is immersed or combined with liquids for human consumption. Like tea bags and coffee filters. 
  8. Activities: farm production, harvest, post-harvest, handling, storage, distribution, processing, packaging.  
  9. Baccillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is used must not be genetically engineered.(Bt is a known poison to many insects and mammals, including humans.)
  1. NGPV products must be genetically tested before the producer gets to claim NGPV. 
  2. Each farm must be inspected annually as much each restaurant claiming NGPV. 
  3. Honey: The bee forage area must be "sufficiently free" or GMOs within 4 miles of the hives. (Wow, that's a tough one!)
  4. Third-party processors do not have to be NGPV but do have to have a system in place which avoids GMO contamination.  
  5. 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.

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