NOSB Update: Facing Challenges as the
Organic Industry Heads into the Future
By Jeff Moyer
When the National Organic Program was launched in 2001, no one had even heard of the word “
nanotechnology.” They also hadn’t imagined that the
market for organic personal care would explode into such a wide array of products (and
confusing marketing claims). Lecithin becoming available in an organic form was not really
thought possible and certifying restaurants
and retailers as organic was not on the radar
While the National Organic Standards
Board (NOSB) may not have anticipated discussing these topics a few years back, at the
last NOSB meeting these issues were very real.
The Board debated and heard public comment on these and several other topics ranging from protecting biodiversity in organic
farming to requiring third-party peer reviews
for the National Organic Program (NOP).
Many of the decisions and discussions will
have direct relevance to the processing industry and the organic community as a whole.
As the organic industry develops commercially, it has become increasingly more difficult to find a balance between the protection
of the integrity of the “O word” and the desire
for the industry to grow and expand into new
product areas. Through all of this, the NOSB
is working to tighten the organic standard in
an effort to help strike that balance and foster
the growth of the industry we all have worked
hard to create.
Making Your Voice Heard. An important
part of this is your voice—the input from the
organic community of producers, processors,
handlers and consumers. At the last meeting,
between written comments and public testi-
mony, well over 400 voices rose up to cheer
on or set the Board straight on a variety of issues. Meetings only happen only twice a year,
so don’t miss the opportunity to make your
What is Nanotechnology and What Does
It Have to Do with Organic?
As the NOSB discovered at its spring meet-ng, there really is no simple answer to this
question, especially when trying to determine
how this new and increasingly pervasive technology fits or doesn’t fit into an organic system.
Nanotechnology is a science with many dif-erent definitions. Some of these definitions
deal with particle size or formation of the particles, while others focus on end use. By its
very nature, the technology is hard to define.
The National Nanotechnology Initiative
(NNI) says that something is “
nanotechnology” only if it involves all of the following:
• Research and technology development at
the atomic, molecular, or macromolecular
level, in the length scale of approximately
1-100 nanometer (nm) range,
• Creating and using structures, devices, and
systems that have novel properties and
functions because of their small or intermediate size, and
• Ability to control or manipulate on the
Nanotechnology is in use today and has
many possible future applications. You can already find it in coatings for eyeglasses, food
packaging to improve gas barrier properties
and ingredients in foods to improve nutritional benefits, antibacterial properties, and
improved mouthfeel. They are also being