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Deliberations Begin on Approving Artificial Ingredients in Organic Production: Consumer Reports Survey Show 7 out of 10 Americans Want as Few Approved as Possible

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SAN ANTONIO -- Today, Consumer Reports is releasing a nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 adults focused on the organic label. Many of the findings are directly relevant to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting, which begins today in San Antonio, TX.  The poll results are available here:

While federal law prohibits synthetic substances in organic agriculture and food processing, including synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones and artificial food ingredients, the law also allows exempted materials to be used for five years. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is the 15-member expert citizen panel charged by Congress with the important task of determining which synthetic substances can be listed as exempt.

This week's NOSB meeting in San Antonio will include deliberations on several material exemptions, including the antibiotic streptomycin's use on apples and pears, synthetic materials for aquaculture (before standards for organic fish have been defined), artificial ingredients (methionine) in poultry feed, and how these exemptions are handled after the five-year permitted-use period has ended.

The organization has long opposed the proliferation of exemptions and their renewed listing given this does not represent what consumers expect from the organic label. The recent survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center underscores this point with 7 out of 10 Americans expressing they wanted as few artificial ingredients as possible.

"Despite the fact that the public does not want a host of artificial ingredients in their organic food, some national advisers and decision-makers in the National Organic Program have overtly expressed a desire to grow the exemption list in order to grow the organic market. We believe this violates the public's trust of what organic means," says Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Executive Director of Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center.