Regulatory Review – NOSB Fall 2015 Meeting Summary

Marathon Meeting: Fall 2015 NOSB Meeting sets new record, Nearly 200 Materials Reviewed for 2017 Sunset

By Alesia Bock, AgriSystems International

The Fall 2015 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting received a large amount of public comment, and successfully completed discussion and voting on nearly 200 materials up for 2017 Sunset review. It was a marathon meeting, and one of the best organized we’ve seen in a long time!

Stowe VT (October 28, 2015) – This Fall’s NOSB Meeting in Stowe VT had an aggressive four-day agenda, chock full of NOP/NOSB updates, public comment, petition review/votes, and a final review/vote for all 198 materials on the Sunset 2017 list.

After the Spring 2015 meeting, we put out a call to all members to provide feedback to NOSB on 2017 Sunset Materials ASAP for those materials that were critical to keep on the National List. We are happy to report that the message was heard! All additional comments received – either by written or public comment — definitely helped to provide critical input to the NOSB board members, in order to make informed decisions on the 2017 materials! This is how the process was designed to work, and Industry must continue to be involved and active in this Sunset Review process.

USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Update

NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy provided an update to the NOP Organic Program Strategic Plan – focusing on protecting organic integrity, increasing market access, ensuring clear regulatory standards, building technology that advances organic integrity, and organizational development for NOP/NOSB members. They also provided a summary of compliance and enforcement actions YTD, and a timing update for the new and improved Certified Entity database.

National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Update

NOSB Chair Jean Richardson kicked off the Fall 2015 meeting by reminding the audience and board members that she would continue to run a “tight ship” in order to get through the 198 materials on the 2017 Sunset list – again reminding everyone to be respectful of each other, seek common ground, and appreciate ALL stakeholder positions. Richardson said the Board appreciated the large amount of public comment received since the last meeting, and the new Webinar format appeared to INCREASE the opportunity for the public to make comments. She also mentioned that $800,000 was spent on updated Tech Reports for some of these sunset materials. NOSB must take a multi-disciplinary and multi-faceted approach in reviewing materials and providing recommendations to NOP, and public comment is very helpful in making decisions. Her closing comments were that the board must balance the hardships whether to take a material off the list, and ensure there are long-term solutions for the industry to thrive.


2015 Sunset Review Final Rule – effective December 15, 2015, removed the following substances from the National List: Marsala wine, Sherry wine, Streptomycin, and Tetracycline.
2016 Sunset Review Proposed Rule – based on NOSB board recommendations to remove five substances from the National list – egg white lysozyme, cyclohexylamine, diethylaminoethanol, octadecylamine, and tetrasodium pyrophoshate.

In summary of NOSB board actions at the Fall 2015 meeting, the trend continued to provide “no-growth” to the National Materials List. The net result was the REMOVAL of 11 inputs from the list, DENIAL of 2 petitions to add synthetic crop inputs to the list, and the APPROVAL of 1 petition to further restrict the use of natural flavors in organic production.

Petitions – status:

  • Passed – remove Lignon Sulfonate as a post-harvest floatation aid.
  • Passed – revise Natural Flavors annotation to require the use of organic flavors when available.
  • Failed – Sulfuric Acid and Brown Seaweed Extract are still prohibited
  • Tabled – Sodium Lactate and Potassium Lactate back to subcommittee.
 As a reminder of new Sunset process, the NOSB board must have two-thirds of members vote in FAVOR of the MOTION TO REMOVE a material from the National List.

2017 Sunset Review– status: (vote to REMOVE 11 materials below, all others voted to relist):

Crops – Remove Lignon Sulfonate as a post harvest floatation aid. Livestock – Remove Furosemide used to treat pulmonary edema and hypercalcemia in livestock.
Handling – Remove the following materials due to no further need for the non-organic forms – Magnesium Carbonate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Chipotle Chili Peppers, Inulin (oligofructose enriched), Dillweed Oil, Chia Seeds, Frozen Galangal, Frozen Lemongrass, Turkish Bay Leaves.

A full summary of all additional proposals, discussion documents, and motions and final decisions for all NOSB agenda items can be found via a comprehensive meeting summary compiled by OTA (Organic Trade Association).  Click here for OTA Fall 2015 Meeting Summary

The next National Organic Standards Board meeting is being held in Washington D.C., April 25th-27th at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008.


Alesia Bock is the Owner/ Managing Director of AgriSystems International, providing consulting services related to organic certification and sustainable business development for food growers and processors. Over her 25-year career in Quality & Regulatory in the food industry, she has dedicated the last 15 years to increasing the availability of natural/organic options for consumers. She can be reached at