AHPA president Michael McGuffin addressed the NOSB last Thursday following the association's submission in January of proposed corrections to a draft Scope Document prepared by NOSB's Policy Development Committee to define the remit of the National Organic Program (NOP), the regulations that implement the OFPA.
In this submission, APHA requested that the statement that dietary supplements cannot be included in the National Organic Program be recognized as erroneous and deleted.
"Dietary supplements that contain herbal ingredients are clearly within the scope of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990," said McGuffin in his address.
APHA's communication with the NOP (the name of the USDA division overseeing the regulations, as well as that of the regulations themselves) over this issue dates back more than four years, during which McGuffin says the agency's position has been inconsistent.
"At one point [it] would have classified all dietary supplements as 'nonagricultural products' and forbade them from carrying the organic label," he said.
"On the other hand, the OFPA clearly defines an "agricultural product" to be 'any agricultural commodity or product, whether raw or processed … marketed in the United States for human or livestock consumption.'"
AHPA's director of communications Karen Robin told NutraIngredients-USA.com: "People who are aware of the value of organics look for them everywhere. It is a natural evolution that they will also want their dietary supplements to be organic.
"You don't leave your organic sensibilities behind when you walk through the supplements aisle."
In October, McGuffin said that he hoped to find "a more receptive ear" in NOSB, the advisory body authorized by the OFPA to make recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on developing standards for substances to be used in organic production and on other aspects of implementing the NOP.
In May 2004 AHPA submitted a letter to USDA challenging a National Organic Program (NOP) guidance statement that said dietary supplement products are not part of the NOP and requiring that dietary supplements currently carrying the USDA seal on their labeling or implying compliance with the NOP discontinue those labels by 15 October 2005.
The USDA subsequently withdrew the statement, which had been released in final version without notice and without giving the opportunity for public comment on its content.