OMRI Announces Contract with U.S. Department of Agriculture

(October 18, 2011)  OMRI and the USDA have signed a landmark contract to produce a comprehensive list of substances permitted for organic crop production. The objective of the contract is to produce a draft guidance document, called the Permitted Substances List (PSL), to clarify which commonly available generic substances are allowed for use in organic crop production, according to USDA regulations at 7 CFR Part 205. While some international organic regulations already utilize this type of 'positive' list, the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations have historically retained different types of material lists for different modes of organic production. The guidance is intended to provide clarity for producers, handlers, certifiers, and other entities involved in the organic industry, which should improve the speed and consistency of materials approval.  

According to Peggy Miars, Executive Director/CEO of OMRI, a permitted substances list will make the U.S. organic standards easier to understand and more accessible for producers and regulators. "We welcome the opportunity to work with the NOP to clarify the organic standards for crop materials," says Miars. "Oversight of organic certification has been a primary focus of the NOP since its inception, and we at OMRI are glad to see that more attention is being given to input materials used by certified operations."

The contract will focus on materials used in organic crop production. Additional materials lists are expected to follow for organic livestock production and for organic processing. The NOP intends to solicit public comments on the draft guidance in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget Bulletin on Agency Good Guidance Practices. Final guidance documents are incorporated into the NOP Handbook, the official USDA reference clarifying NOP standards and best program practices.

With ISO-65 accreditation and nearly 15 years of experience reviewing materials, OMRI is uniquely suited both technically and procedurally to produce the PSL for the organic industry. OMRI has reviewed thousands of brand name products to determine compliance with U.S. organic rules, and OMRI's internal database of current and past product applications contains more than 25,000 allowed and prohibited ingredients. The resulting OMRI Products List© provides certifiers, producers and the general public with the most comprehensive source of information on products for organic use. Hundreds of subscribers to OMRI receive printed lists and quarterly updates throughout the year. OMRI's published Generic Materials List© is also provided to subscribers and used by thousands of organic producers and certifiers as a guide to compliant materials. This authoritative catalog of over 900 materials that are allowed, allowed with restrictions, or prohibited in organic production represents a library of historical data compiled to help develop, maintain, and inform organic input material decisions. Although the NOP PSL will provide the official reference for materials, OMRI will continue to maintain the Generic Materials List© for internal use, and the publication will remain available to subscribers and the public at www.omri.org.

Contact: Peggy Miars, OMRI Executive Director/CEO

Founded in 1997, the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) provides organic certifiers, growers, manufacturers, and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production, handling, and processing. OMRI is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. When companies apply, OMRI reviews their products against the National Organic Standards. Acceptable products are OMRI Listed® and appear on the OMRI Products List. OMRI also provides subscribers and certifiers guidance on the acceptability of various material inputs in general under the National Organic Program.

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