Organic 101: Allowed and Prohibited Substances

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Organic standards are designed to allow natural substances in organic farming while prohibiting synthetic substances. The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances—a component of the organic standards—lists the exceptions to this basic rule.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is designed by law to advise the National Organic Program (NOP) on which substances should be allowed or prohibited.  Made up of dedicated public volunteers appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, board members include organic growers, handlers, retailers, environmentalists, scientists, USDA-accredited certifying agents and consumer advocates.

NOSB members must use specific criteria when voting, including the need for the substance and its impacts on human health and the environment.  In specific cases, the NOSB also votes to allow non-organic versions of a substance if it isn’t available in organic form on a scale large enough to support organic agriculture.

Read More: USDA