The National List

The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List)

Organic operations must comply with the USDA organic regulations when using substances (or ingredients). The National List portion of the USDA organic regulations outlines what nonorganic substances may be used in organic production and handling. It is organized according to three scopes: crop, livestock, and handling (processing). In general, the following principles apply:

  • In organic crop production, nonsynthetic (natural) substances are allowed unless specifically prohibited and synthetic substances are prohibited unless specifically allowed (§§ 205.601 - 205.602)
  • In organic livestock production, nonsynthetic (natural) substances are allowed unless specifically prohibited and synthetic substances are prohibited unless specifically allowed (§§ 205.603 - 205.604)
  • In organic handling production, nonagricultural synthetic, nonagricultural nonsynthetic (natural), and nonorganic agricultural substances are only allowed if included on the National List (§§ 205.605 - 205.606)

Some substances on the National List include annotations, which are specific requirements for how an organic operation must use the substance. Annotated substances are commonly referred to as “restricted”, as opposed to “allowed”.

All substances used on organic operations must be approved by the operation’s certifying agent before use. View a list of organic certification agencies. 

Changing the National List

Changes to the National List occur through rulemaking done by the National Organic Program (NOP) in response to a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommendation on a submitted petition, sunset review, or other NOSB recommendations. See a list of Rules currently going through the regulatory process.

The Petitioned Substances Index

This index lists all substances that have been considered for addition to the National List. It includes both substances that were ultimately added, and those that were not. Entries may also include additional information such as relevant rulemaking (if any), NOSB subcommittee proposals and recommendations (if a change was proposed to the National List), technical reports (if conducted), or NOP memorandums on the petitioned substance. This index is non-exhaustive and is for reference use only. Substances are added, or updated, in the index when:

  • Eligible petitions are submitted to the NOSB for review;
  • NOP memorandums are sent to the NOSB for review;
  • New Technical Reports, Technical Advisory Panel reports, or other relevant documents are published;
  • The NOSB recommends an action that would change the existing National List regulatory text; or
  • The NOP conducts rulemaking to change the existing National List regulatory text.

NOSB sunset reviews that recommend renewals, but no changes, and relevant NOP rulemaking that renew substances with no changes, are not included in this index.

Users may search by keyword, status, or scope, and searches can be organized and sorted alphabetically by toggling the column headers:

  • Keyword: Search using the substance name or related terms. Partial-word search compatible.
  • Scope: The scope of organic production for which the substance was petitioned and/or reviewed; Crops, Livestock, or Handling.
  • Status: Organized across four categories; Under NOSB Review, In Process, Closed, and Complete:
    • Under NOSB Review: A petition has been submitted and sent to the NOSB by the NOP for review and recommendation, or the NOP has sent a memorandum to the NOSB requesting a review and recommendation. The substance is on the NOSB work agenda.
    • In Process: The NOSB has finished its review and the NOP is implementing the recommendation.
    • Closed: The NOP resolved the NOSB recommendation through alternative means, has determined that it cannot currently implement the recommendation, or has no further plans to implement the recommendation.
    • Complete: The NOSB did not recommend rulemaking on the substance, or the NOP has completed the actions recommended by the NOSB.
  • Related terms: Additional terms associated with the substance (e.g., “gypsum” for “calcium sulfate” or “inactive ingredients” for “excipients”).