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National Organic Program - NOP

Posted by deerslayer Z5 NE IL (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 12, 07 at 19:56

There are many references to the NOP standards on this and other lawn care forums. I have read the regulations several times and each time I read them, I become more convinced that they have limited if any applicability to "safe" or "nonchemical" lawn care.

From the NOP website:
"Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990. The OFPA required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop national standards for organically produced agricultural products to assure consumers that agricultural products marketed as organic meet consistent, uniform standards."

"The NOP is a marketing program housed within the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Neither the OFPA nor the NOP regulations address food safety or nutrition."

In summary, the NOP defines the use of the term "organic" on food labels.

Many people that use grains to fertilize their lawns don't realize that using nonorganically grown grains violates the NOP standards. Face it folks, from a NOP standpoint you're lawn is not organic (BTW, if your grass seed was genetically engineered or nonorganically grown, you have a second or third violation of the NOP rules).

What about people that use compost teas? From the NOP website (page 68 of linked document):
"The microbial composition of compost teas are difficult to ascertain and control and we are concerned that applying compost teas could impose a risk to human health. Regulation of compost teas was not addressed in the proposed rule. The National Organic Program (NOP) will request additional input from the NOSB and the agricultural research community before deciding whether these materials should be prohibited in organic production or whether restrictions on their use are appropriate."

So the jury is still out...

Most people that are interested in "organic" lawn care want safe, attractive, and relatively low maintenance lawns. They prefer to use environmentally friendly products to achieve their goals. Many prefer not to use "inorganic" chemicals whether the materials are approved by the NOP or not. In my opinion, the NOP rules are not consistent with the goals of most people that want a "natural" lawn.

What do you think? Is there anyone reading this that has a lawn that is in compliance with all of the NOP rules and is truly "organic"?

-Deerslayer


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: National Organic Program - NOP

You read the 500 pages of the NOP guidelines "several times" and you summarize it by stating, "the NOP defines the use of the term "organic" on food labels." Really!! that's it?

hhmmm...let me see if I can put it in terms you can grasp...raise deer on your front lawn, shoot them and if you can register it as organic meat then you have an organic lawn...

NOP is clear and concise...just follow the rules and use products that are third party approved to the standards...try OMRI or Oregon Tilth...You're right about NOP not determinite in taste or quality of the end product...it is to regulate process and inputs. If you don't use the correct fertilizers (like keep your sulfur levels less tahn 2#/acre) your deer's nutrition will suffer becuase you lawn will be a lousy crop...

Incidently, organic doesn't always mean safe...there are plenty of restricted products and EPA registered pesticides that meet NOP...think QST and WYEC cultures for fungus control...

However, if you cannot follow these rules then start a site for "almost organic" or "sustainable" or "natural" and that is fine. But, a rose is a rose is a rose...

And if you need help with definitions it means when it is all said and done it is what it is...organic means compliance with NOP.

And yes, there are associations and companies with NOP compliant programs...I can think of a company in Canada (which has more stringent guidelines because of the issue you cited with soy & corn) that has about 120 branches and CT recently passed a law that sports fields cannot use products outside NOP...and there are companies in several states that follow similar programs.

And! TruGreen Chemlawn uses an organic program in Santa Barbara County in California I believe...

SOUL Association in Mass also has excellent reference material...

Barenburg USA has turf seed that is NOP....also selective breeding is allowed...like any open pollinated plant (thjink heirloom tomatoes)

Canada legislated the use of organics because homeowners wouldn't do it on their own...it is quickly coming to that in the US if we don't promote this tact...homeowners, by far, by really far, are the largest contributors to pesticide, chemical pollution in the US. Just look at the recent decision to eliminate acenical herbicides in the US..say goodbye to Ortho Weed B Gone and Scotts Turf builder and 600 other products...all had their registrations cancelled because of MSMA, CAMA, MSMA etc...

Here is a link that might be useful: EPA Decision


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RE: National Organic Program - NOP

"You read the 500 pages of the NOP guidelines "several times" and you summarize it by stating, "the NOP defines the use of the term "organic" on food labels." Really!! that's it?"

Really, that's it...as clear and concise as I can write it. The 554 pages define the requirements that must be satisfied to use the term "organic" on food labels...no more, no less. Show me where the USDA says that the NOP standards are intended to be used for lawn care.

"hhmmm...let me see if I can put it in terms you can grasp...raise deer on your front lawn, shoot them and if you can register it as organic meat then you have an organic lawn"
That doesn't make any sense. Perhaps you are jumping to conclusions before gathering the facts...that wouldn't surprise me based on your post.

"NOP is clear and concise"
554 pages is concise?

"Incidently, organic doesn't always mean safe...there are plenty of restricted products and EPA registered pesticides that meet NOP...think QST and WYEC cultures for fungus control."
I know, that's a key point in my initial post and why the NOP standards may not be appropriate for people that want safe lawns.

"And if you need help with definitions it means when it is all said and done it is what it is...organic means compliance with NOP."
Is your lawn organic according to the NOP? As you pointed out, the NOP is more than a list of allowed and prohibited substances. Remember, if your lawn wasn't grown from organic seed, your lawn is not compliant with the NOP standards.

"And yes, there are associations and companies with NOP compliant programs...I can think of a company in Canada"
As you can see from my header, I don't live in Canada.

"are the largest contributors to pesticide, chemical pollution in the US"
We agree on this one. I've read that 10 times more pesticides by weight are used on home lawns than on U.S. farms.

-Deerslayer


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RE: National Organic Program - NOP

Limited applicability to lawns? Yes! In fact it probably has zero applicability to lawns. We can stretch it out and try to follow the rules, but in the end, who really cares? Nobody is buying our lawn clipping for consumption.

Many people that use grains to fertilize their lawns don't realize that using nonorganically grown grains violates the NOP standards.

I haven't read it many times. Can you point me to the areas where it says you have to use organically grown natural fertilizers to have certifiable organic production? I'm not trying to be pissy; I'm trying to learn without reading 500 pages. In my case it isn't going to make a difference whether my corn meal might have some pesticide residue that penetrated the corn husk and resisted any washing or frictional abrasion. Corn meal is still a better choice than chemicals.

Most people that are interested in "organic" lawn care want safe, attractive, and relatively low maintenance lawns. They prefer to use environmentally friendly products to achieve their goals. Many prefer not to use "inorganic" chemicals whether the materials are approved by the NOP or not. In my opinion, the NOP rules are not consistent with the goals of most people that want a "natural" lawn.

Within the limits of my familiarity with the letter of the rules, I generally agree with this, too.


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RE: National Organic Program - NOP

NOP defines the rules to use "organic." Check your own states requirements to use the term for yourself. Ifd you have an organic lawn then you are in compliance. If you are not in compliance then you are not organic.

Enjoy your venison! But is is not organic and you cannot stand with those that put the effort and time into making that claim...you're a want a be..

Who cares if your opinion is not that of the NOP...the NOP sets the rule. You can do what you want that is true but you cannot claim to be organic...just like growers of tomatoes cannot who do what they want.

But, that is why we have fraud claims trebled in courts...to make the punishment for clear rules really hurt folks that just do what they want to do standing on the shoulders of those who actually do the work, research and put the effort in...


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RE: National Organic Program - NOP

"Limited applicability to lawns? Yes! In fact it probably has zero applicability to lawns. We can stretch it out and try to follow the rules, but in the end, who really cares? Nobody is buying our lawn clipping for consumption."

DCHall, those are my sentiments, also.

"Can you point me to the areas where it says you have to use organically grown natural fertilizers to have certifiable organic production?"

205.203

(c) The producer must manage plant and animal materials to maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances.

Nonorganically grown grains contain residues of prohibited substances i.e. pesticides. Even organically grown grains may not be allowed because they will promote the growth of aflatoxins which are pathogenic organisms. Most folks focus on heavy metals and disregard the other substances listed in 205.203.

-Deerslayer


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RE: National Organic Program - NOP

"Enjoy your venison! But is is not organic and you cannot stand with those that put the effort and time into making that claim...you're a want a be."

Ntbio, like I stated earlier, you jump to conclusions before researching and analyzing the facts. My favorite novel as a child was "The Deerslayer" by James Fenimore Cooper. Perhaps you saw the movie (there have been several). Deerslayer, who was also known as Hawkeye, Leatherstocking, and Pathfinder, was a heroic figure in a series of Cooper novels. Deerslayer has been my one and only handle in discussion groups since I began participating in them during the early 1980s.

Secondly, I have no desire to claim that my lawn is organic according to the NOP or anyone else for that matter. It's beyond me how you came up with that.

Clearly, you haven't done any research before making such statements. If you had, you would have seen previous posts explaining my handle and the fact that I haven't claimed to have an organic lawn. For example, I've promoted the use of urea as a late fall fertilizer. Clearly that's not an "organic" practice. I have defended the use of biosolids. In addition, I often give "chemical" advice in the Lawn Care Forum.

I believe in a combination of lawn care practices similar to the program promoted by Malcolm Beck. Beck advocates Holistic Resource Management which he defines as "what nature intended". HRM includes the use of biosolids and urea to improve soil fertility.

Your powers of research and analysis are underwhelming. If you think that you have an organic lawn according to the NOP and that is important to you, be my guest and continue to delude yourself.

-Deerslayer


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RE: National Organic Program - NOP

205.203

(c) The producer must manage plant and animal materials to maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances.

Nonorganically grown grains contain residues of prohibited substances i.e. pesticides. Even organically grown grains may not be allowed because they will promote the growth of aflatoxins which are pathogenic organisms. Most folks focus on heavy metals and disregard the other substances listed in 205.203.

I wonder if they have limits to the residue allowed? There's probably residue on the silverware coming out of my dishwasher.

I believe in a combination of lawn care practices similar to the program promoted by Malcolm Beck. Beck advocates Holistic Resource Management which he defines as "what nature intended". HRM includes the use of biosolids and urea to improve soil fertility.

Malcolm Beck is the guru in San Antonio. I believe he is responsible for the amount of interest in organics in Texas. Certainly he is responsible for my interest. HRM is a different thing, though. HRM is a method of decision making that is becoming more common in livestock management. The use of HRM more closely simulates the way enormous herds of animals roamed the plains, steppes, and savannas around the world before we started fencing them in. HRM is a more open philosophy of decision making. It would allow a person to use biosolids and urea if the person felt it was beneficial for the whole of his environment. I know some HRM livestock producers and they would never use biosolids, urea, hormones, pesticide, insecticide, dewormers, or any of the common chemicals and "medicines" in use today. They rely on sunshine, rain (yes, even in the Texas drought) and proper management to double the output of their neighbors. These people preach and preach but so far the takers are few and far between simply for one reason - "My daddy didn't do it that way." Meanwhile the HRM producers are buying up the land from the traditional producers as they slowly sell off the farm to make ends meet.

Google "holistic resource management" and "management of wholes" for more info.


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RE: National Organic Program - NOP

"I wonder if they have limits to the residue allowed?"

If you interpret the rule literally, residues of prohibited substances are not permitted regardless of amount.

-Deerslayer


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