NOTE: Recommendations made by the NOSB are not official policy until they are approved and adopted by USDA.
Appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, the NOSB is a Federal Advisory Committee comprised of the following members of the organic community:
- Four farmers/growers
- Three environmentalists/resource conservationists
- Three consumer/public interest advocates
- Two handlers/processors
- One retailer
- One scientist (toxicology, ecology, or biochemistry)
- One USDA accredited certifying agent
The NOSB advises USDA on which substances should be allowed or prohibited in organic farming and processing, based on criteria under the Organic Foods Production Act. In general, synthetic substances are prohibited unless specifically allowed (e.g. vaccines) and non-synthetic substances are allowed unless specifically prohibited (e.g. arsenic). The NOSB must also review each substance on the National List every five years to confirm that it continues to meet all required criteria; this is referred to as the “sunset” review.
The NOSB also makes recommendations on a wide variety of purview, including organic pet food standards and organic inspector qualifications. NOSB Committees first publish proposals with request for public comments. During meetings, the NOSB listens to public comments, discusses their agenda items, and then votes in a public forum. The NOSB then submits their final recommendations to the USDA.