SAN DIEGO, Calif., March 17, 2017 – In advance of the National Organics Standards Board (NOSB) April 2017 meeting, the Crops Subcommittee has shared a draft proposal calling for the end of organic certification for hydroponic and aquaponic growers. If implemented, this change in policy would significantly reduce the U.S. grown supply of organic produce.
“The Coalition for Sustainable Organics believes that everyone deserves organic and this proposal will make it harder for consumers to access organic produce,” stated Lee Frankel, executive director for the Coalition. “The discussion document will diminish the relevancy of organic produce as a meaningful solution to the environmental challenges faced by growers. Organics should continue to allow growers adapt to their site-specific conditions within the parameters of avoiding the use of GMO’s, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers while creating active biological systems to nourish the plants. As noted in a 2016 survey of organic consumers, consumers overwhelmingly support the continued use of organic production systems that utilize containers.”
Karen Archipley, co-owner of Archi’s Acres, a certified organic greenhouse operation in Escondido, California producing living basil, kale and other fresh produce, expressed her concerns about the proposal. “I am deeply disappointed in the document. The Crops Subcommittee ignored the science regarding the rich biology we use to nourish our plants,” stated Archipley. “We are proud of the military veterans, their spouses and the many civilians that we have trained to grow using hydro-organic methods and to open their own new farms to deliver high quality and flavor products that our customers love. Organic growers must do our part to conserve natural resources and grow in harmony with nature based on the conditions in our local environment.”
Container Growing as a Sustainable Approach
Container growing is a controlled growing system in which plants derive nutrients from approved organic substances in water and/or growing material. A 2015 study showed water savings of more than 90 percent for container systems versus open-field production systems. These growing methods promote sustainability in many ways:
- They generally require fewer resources per pound of fruits, vegetable or herbs produced compared to food grown outdoors in the soil
- In most cases, container growing uses less water, needs less land, significantly reduces soil erosion and extends the growing season of plants
- It also reduces runoff of nutrients or other chemicals into streams, lakes and water aquifers
Speak Up for Sustainable Organics
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has opened a formal comment period where everyone, including consumers, producers, restaurants and supermarkets can express their view on the Crops Subcommittee’s proposal.
“The future of our diverse and sustainable organic supply is at risk,” said Frankel. “People need to share their opinion with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Organics Standards Board to allow our farmers to remain proud members of the organic family.”
Interested parties can express their opinion online by going to https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=AMS-NOP-16-0100-0001 and submitting a comment.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Lee Frankel, Executive Director
 Lages Barbosa, Guilherme et al. “Comparison of Land, Water, and Energy Requirements of Lettuce Grown Using Hydroponic vs. Conventional Agricultural Methods.” Ed. Rao Bhamidiammarri and Kiran Tota-Maharaj. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 12.6 (2015): 6879–6891.PMC. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.