NOSB Fall 2016 Meeting Results: Carrageenan Disallowed; New GMO Technology Banned; Jury Out on Organic Aquaculture

NOSB Fall 2016 Meeting Results: Carrageenan Disallowed; New GMO Technology Banned; Jury Out on Organic Aquaculture

Source - Presence Marketing December 2016 Newsletter

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted 11-3 to disallow the controversial ingredient Carrageenan in certified organic products at its biannual public meeting held November 16th to 18th, 2016, in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Carrageenan, a food additive derived from a type of red seaweed and commonly used as a thickener, emulsifier and/or stabilizing agent in processed foods such as chocolate milk, soy milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, deli meats and other products, has been subject to intensifying debate in the organic industry. Larger organic producers have maintained that Carrageenan is safe, while consumer groups including the Cornucopia Institute petitioned NOSB to remove the ingredient, asserting that Carrageenan is linked to gastrointestinal inflammation and is a possible carcinogen. As a result of the vote, Carrageenan will no longer be allowed in certified organic products beginning in 2018. 

Also, while traditional genetic engineering (GMO) methodologies are prohibited in organic production, NOSB voted to officially prohibit newer technologies that have emerged since the original national organic law was passed. NOSB added biotech methods including CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, mutagenesis and synthetic biology to the excluded methods list, along with guiding principles and criteria to be applied in the evaluation of new technologies. 

In further testing the waters for hydroponically grown certified organic products – another organic “hot button” issue – NOSB voted to delay a decision on the issue, referring any recommendation on hydroponics back to a subcommittee until the spring 2017 meeting. In 2010, the NOSB made a recommendation to ban hydroponics, as the original definition of organic, written in 1995, included the word “soil,” while a revised definition written in 2002 omitted “soil” and used “biological practices” instead, reports Max Goldberg in Living Maxwell

USDA has allowed some certifiers to certify hydroponically grown produce including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and other products, while other certifiers do not because of a lack of guidance from the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), says the Cornucopia Institute. Mexico, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and 24 European nations all prohibit hydroponic vegetable production – where plants are grown in water with their roots in nutrient systems instead of soil – to be sold as organic in their own countries, reports Living Maxwell

The next NOSB meeting will take place April 19th to 21st, 2017, in Denver, Colorado.

*This content was originally published in the Presence Marketing December 2016 Newsletter.