The meeting kicked off today with deliberations by the Handling Subcommittee. After rejecting one new petition for a synthetic material, apparently based on essentiality, they cruised through the balance of Sunset materials mostly on autopilot. One exception was ion exchange recharge and resin materials.

There’s been quite an inconsistency in terms of how certifiers have been reviewing the materials, with some just rubberstamping what manufacturers are using to filter liquid products like juice, while others look at them by category or by scrutinizing each separate material that the food comes in contact with.

The debate was based on a discussion document so this topic will be revisited.

But it’s a good example of how information is processed and applied. Board members talked about comments they had received (written and oral testimony) but overall gave more weight and credibility to what certifiers, material review organizations, and businesses had to say rather than public interest groups.

It did not serve the public, or the board members, well in making decisions to not know why nonprofit groups were objecting. Some board members seem to suggest that they were just rejecting all materials on a wholesale basis.

Staff at OrganicEye have colleagues who are scientists with PhDs in applicable biological disciplines who have written thoughtful presentations for the NOSB to consider. We didn’t hear any of those concerns articulated. One board member said, in terms of the ion exchange materials, “I think they are safe.” 

OrganicEye’s take: He’s not a scientist but he is hanging his hat on the fact that the FDA has approved them for use in food processing. This problem has come up before. It doesn’t matter what the FDA has to say. We founded the organic industry based on the fact that many of its constituents do not trust the FDA to scrutinize food ingredients, do not trust the EPA to set safe limits on toxic pesticides, and do not trust the USDA in their blessing of the use of genetically engineered materials (without any human health testing or long-term animal studies).

The NOSB is charged with holding organic food to a higher standard, based on the precautionary principle.

The meeting continued with Board elections and a discussion about the timing of the biannual meetings in response to an appeal from crop farmers who have suggested changing the schedule to better accommodate spring planting and harvest workloads. For several reasons articulated by the program, it did not appear that that the current schedule would change. The spring 2023 meeting will, again, take place in April.

Outgoing members gave heartfelt speeches, as did the current NOSB, in praise of the collegial environment they work in. No one questioned or challenged the current status quo or articulated any concerns.