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Posts tagged: National Organic Program

Organic 101: Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products?

This is the thirteenth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.

Organic operations implement preventive practices based on site-specific risk factors, such as neighboring conventional farms or shared farm equipment or processing facilities.  For example, some farmers plant their seeds early or late to avoid organic and GMO crops flowering at the same time (which can cause cross-pollination). Others harvest crops prior to flowering or sign cooperative agreements with neighboring farms to avoid planting GMO crops next to organic ones. Farmers also designate the edges of their land as a buffer zone where the land is managed organically, but the crops aren’t sold as organic. Any shared farm or processing equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent unintended exposure to GMOs or prohibited substances. Read more »

Organic 101: Sound and Sensible Approach to Organic Certification

The ‘Sound and Sensible’ initiative is about removing barriers to certification, and working with farmers, like the one pictured here, to correct small issues before they become larger ones.

The ‘Sound and Sensible’ initiative is about removing barriers to certification, and working with farmers, like the one pictured here, to correct small issues before they become larger ones.

This is the twelfth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

Consumers purchase organic products expecting that they maintain their organic integrity from farm to market. Under the USDA organic rules, organic farmers must demonstrate they are protecting the environment, supporting animal health and welfare, and producing their products without the use of prohibited substances (including synthetic pesticides). Read more »

Organic 101: Almost 25,000 Certified Operations at Your Fingertips

In 2012, there was significant growth in the number of operations in California, Iowa, and New England, and only slight growth in the number of operations in the southeastern United States.  This map shows the concentration of organic operations within the U.S.

In 2012, there was significant growth in the number of operations in California, Iowa, and New England, and only slight growth in the number of operations in the southeastern United States. This map shows the concentration of organic operations within the U.S.

This is the eleventh installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

Last week the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) published the 2012 list of certified organic operations. Our online database now provides information on 17,750 certified USDA organic farms and processing facilities in the United States. That’s almost a 240 percent increase since the NOP began tracking this data in 2002. Worldwide, there are now close to 25,000 certified organic operators representing more than 100 countries. Read more »

Organic 101: Strengthening Organic Integrity through Increased Residue Testing

From produce, like these vine-ripened tomatoes, to processed foods like cheese and milk, additional testing requirements will help certifying agents identify cases where prohibited methods and substances are being used. Photo courtesy Jess Sanson.

From produce, like these vine-ripened tomatoes, to processed foods like cheese and milk, additional testing requirements will help certifying agents identify cases where prohibited methods and substances are being used. Photo courtesy Jess Sanson.

This is the tenth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

In late 2012, the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) announced a strengthened residue testing program to help increase consumer confidence in the $32 billion organic industry worldwide. Consumers purchase organic products expecting that they maintain their organic integrity from farm to market, and USDA is committed to meeting these expectations. This program will provide additional verification that organic farmers are following the rules and not using prohibited substances. Read more »

Organic 101: Organic Wine

This is the ninth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

According to a 2011 survey by the Organic Trade Association, organic beverages made up about 12% of total organic food sales growth. Organic wine contributed to that growth, matching pace with conventional wine purchases. So what is organic wine?

As with other USDA organic products, organic wine is made without using prohibited substances or genetic engineering (see Allowed and Prohibited Substances). It undergoes the same rigorous requirements of USDA organic certification as other products throughout its lifecycle (see Five Steps to Organic Certification). And, in addition to being overseen by the USDA National Organic Program, it has to meet the requirements of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, especially for sulfite labeling requirements. Read more »

Organic Agriculture Spreads its Wings Coast-to-Coast

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

Organic agriculture is proving itself to be a veritable cornucopia, according to the results of the first-ever report on certified USDA organic production, which we released earlier this month. While the number of organic farms is a fraction of its conventional counterpart, an organically produced version of virtually every crop or animal product is now available in the United States.

This was the first time the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducted this survey, which means that we cannot see trends yet, but we can already easily see some of the impacts of organic production in the United States. From four farms in Alabama, Alaska or Delaware to 1,898 farms in California, every state in the nation is now home to USDA-certified organic producers. And while these farmers make up less than a half of one percent of all U.S. farmers, they already sell more than $3.5 billion worth of agricultural products. Read more »