Organic growers across the Southeast have different opinions on the latest recommendations for what should be considered organic, issued by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).
The NOSB, made up of 15 industry leaders, recommended that hydroponics and aquaponics be considered organic at a 2017 meeting in Jacksonville, Florida. The NOSB’s recommendations are considered for the USDA’s organic certification rules.
Many industry leaders have opinions why this recommendation is or is not correct.
Marty Mesh, the executive director of Florida Organic Growers, weighed in on the issue.
The vote is viewed as having a “significant majority” when 10 votes are reached for either side of the issue, said Mesh. However, in this year’s recommendation, the vote was 8-7.
“[The vote] shows that there wasn’t consensus within the community or the industry,” he said.
Mesh believes one possibility to finding common ground between the opposing sides is labeling products.
“Certified organic hydroponically grown,” is the labeling Mesh gave as an example. He said this labeling has been used in the past for products grown organically and hydroponically.
This labeling gives consumers the option to choose which types of production systems they support, Mesh suggested. Soil health might be important to some consumers, while water conservation might be important to others.
Consumers would have total transparency of what they are purchasing and how it is produced through this process.
The decision will be placed back into the industry communities for discussion. Though not every person involved will be happy with the result, Mesh hopes the outcome is found through respect and dialogue among everyone involved.
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