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May 18, 2010

Consumer Groups Campaign to Exclude Nanotechnology from Organic Standards

On 18 May 2010, the National Alliance for Natural Health reported in its newsletter that the Organic Consumers Union and others had requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) prohibit the use of nanotechnology in organic food production.  The newsletter requested that all interested in position send comments to the NOSB.

As background, NOSB is in the process of a detailed technical and scientific review of this issue.  This is the result of NOSB's hearing on "Nanotechnology in Organic Production, Processing, and Packaging," held on 8 September 2009.  At issue is the fact that when nanotechnology is not mentioned in the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) or the National Organic Program (NOP) Rule published in 2000.  NOP does not mention nanotechnology and excluded methods are not prohibited.  Therefore, in order to eliminate the possibility of nanoparticles being used in the production of organic foods, NOSB must rule to exclude nanotechnology.  This is why the Organic Consumers Union and the Alliance for Natural Health are joining with others to campaign for its exclusion.

The need for a scientific definition for nanoparticles and nanotechnology arises from the fact that nanoparticles can be "specifically engineered, byproducts of various activities such as combustion or industrial manufacturing, or they can occur naturally, as in sea spray or erosion. Some nanoparticles are created in normal food processing technologies such as the homogenization of milk."  NOSB members requested a technical definition is order to legally distinguish between synthetic and naturally ocurring nanoparticles and as a way not to cast a negative image on an entire industry that is still developing.

Photo credit: "No Nano" logo, courtesy of the Organic Consumers Association

For more see:

Previous chronicle entry:  National Organic Standards Board Requests Technical Review of Nanotechnology

"Nanotechnology: New Threat to Organic Foods," National Alliance for Natural Health Newsletter, 18 May 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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