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OMRI disallows two fertilizers; NOP issues warning, significant new guidelines

EUGENE, ORE. (February 20, 2009) - The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) removed two products from the OMRI Products List on Tuesday, February 17th, meaning that they cannot continue to be used in organic agriculture. An OMRI investigation determined that both Marizyme™, made by Port Organic Products, Ltd., and Agrolizer™, distributed by Agromar, Inc. contain ingredients that are prohibited in fertilizers for organic applications.

In addition, today, the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) released a notice to its Accredited Certifying Agents stating that continued use of Marizyme™ and Agrolizer™ by organic operations would place their certification under considerable risk. Both producers of these products are currently under investigation by the USDA's Office of Inspector General.

The notice from the NOP also outlined a series of new guidelines for materials review organizations such as OMRI, mandating inspections and audits of producers of "all high nitrogen liquid fertilizers (nitrogen analysis greater than 3 percent)." The notice also requires certifiers to "implement a system of audit and inspection for branded products they deem compliant with the NOP regulations." OMRI began updating its procedures to increase audits and inspections three years ago.

"OMRI welcomes these new guidelines from the NOP. This new policy provides the organic industry with additional assurance that high-risk inputs will be subject to even greater scrutiny," explains OMRI executive director David DeCou. "This notice from the NOP reinforces OMRI's current course of strengthening certification procedures to confront the increasing incentive for companies to bend or break the rules."

The new guidelines will be fully implemented by October 1, 2009, and apply globally to all third-party materials review organizations working to the NOP. As directed by the NOP, OMRI and similar organizations will "undergo audits as a condition of ongoing recognition." The USDA performed an audit of OMRI's operations in 2007 prior to granting ISO-65 accreditation. OMRI has since submitted to yearly audits and remains ISO-65 accredited.

In addition, OMRI continues to actively assist the USDA's Office of Inspector General with their ongoing criminal investigation of the products. Besides working with federal authorities, OMRI is coordinating with fertilizer control officials from several states and welcomes the opportunity to work with government officials to safeguard organic integrity.

According to the notice, organic fertilizer producers must demonstrate "all necessary infrastructure to produce the approved finished product," including sufficient storage, equipment, and transportation capacity. Inspections must also verify that prohibited materials are not within 100 yards of the dedicated facility for the organic approved inputs. Inspectors will conduct extensive audits of each producer comparing incoming materials with outgoing finished products.

"While these higher standards may increase the cost and reduce the availability of fertilizers to organic farmers, we believe this is a necessary step to safeguard integrity which will provide critical stability to the organic industry in the long term," said DeCou.

Please note that while the 2009 printed version of the OMRI Products List still contains the names of both Marizyme™ and Agrolizer™, the online version of the OMRI Products List at www.omri.org always contains the most up-to-date information. The full text of the NOP notice is also available on the OMRI website.