We first alerted you about synthetic nutrients in organic infant formula last year. Unfortunately, the problem has not gone away and may spread to other organic foods.
Organic means organic. Organic standards should not include any synthetic nutrients. It contradicts organic. So far, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has agreed, but large food corporations are pushing the USDA to change that.
The Cornucopia Institute explains:
In the past six months, organic stakeholders won a string of victories at the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meetings, which upheld organic integrity and rejected corporate petitions for eight synthetic nutrients.
Rather than respect the organic law and accept the NOSB recommendation and the will of the organic community, corporate food manufacturers like Nestle have refused to remove the synthetic nutrients from organic foods, and have turned instead to the USDA for help.
Sadly, the USDA seems all too eager to help them out. Despite a 2011 public apology by USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan for the previous administration’s creation of a loophole in the organic standards, which led to the indiscriminate and illegal addition of synthetic nutrients to organic foods, the USDA is now unwilling to back this apology with concrete action, and is once again catering to corporate interests.
The USDA initially proposed closing the loophole in January 2012, and both the organic community and corporate food manufacturers supported their proposed rule. But that was before the NOSB voted on the petitions for synthetic nutrients. Food manufacturers, such as Nestle, likely supported the initial proposed rule because they expected that the NOSB would approve the synthetic nutrients that they are currently putting in organic food (in the past, the NOSB has all too often sided with corporate lobbyists in a desire to “grow” the organic market).
When the NOSB rejected Nestle’s and other corporate petitions, the USDA tabled its initial proposed rule and came out with a weakened rule that keeps the loophole and the illegal policy on nutrients in place.
The organic community must make clear that synthetic nutrients should be individually reviewed by the National Organic Standards Board, and if approved, should be individually listed on the National List of allowed materials. All loopholes and incorrect interpretations of the organic standards must end now.
The NOSB, after considering extensive public comment, has made clear that synthetic nutrients have no place in organic foods. The USDA must take immediate enforcement against any and all synthetic nutrients that are not on the National List of allowed materials and that have been rejected by the National Organic Standards Board.
Even though three synthetic nutrients were approved by the NOSB for use in infant formula, five of them were rejected.
The USDA is seeking public comments on this issue right now. You have until December 26, 2012 to do so. If you expect the nutrients in your organic food to occur naturally, please make your voice heard!