Production

USDA allows synthetic hormone in organic milk production, despite warrant against it

(Beyond pesticides, March 7, 2022) Contrary to consumer demands for hormone-free organic dairy products and Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) requirements, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will permit the continued use of oxytocin , a synthetic hormone, in organic dairy production. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted unanimously in 2017 to reject the use of oxytocin, a synthetic hormone, in animal production. Since the administration of oxytocin has been linked to a range of serious health problems and precocious puberty, autism and psychiatric disorders, it is important to avoid residues in food that can cause a hormonal imbalance in food eaters.

Tell USDA Secretary Vilsack to reverse the decision to allow oxytocin in organic dairy products. Tell Congress that more oversight is needed to make sure the USDA follows the law on organic food production.

Substances on the national list are reviewed every five years to determine if they still meet the OFPA criteria that their use is (1) not harmful to human health or the environment , (2) necessary for organic production and (3) compatible with organic practices. In the case of oxytocin, a hormone involved in the milk let-down reflex, there has long been concern that misusing the hormone to increase milk production could be detrimental to cow health. Increasing milk production can also come at the expense of the organic dairy industry. The USDA, with its increase production mentality, ignores the greater importance of organic principles to organic consumers.

In 2017, the NOSB unanimously recommended the sunsetting (removal) of oxytocin from the National List of Permitted and Prohibited Substances (National List). Oxytocin had been licensed for use for “use in postpartum therapeutic applications” since 2000. In deciding not to put oxytocin back on sale, the NOSB said, “[M]Methods and materials have been developed that make oxytocin less essential for maintaining animal health and welfare. Expectations and awareness of dairy production tools by consumers have evolved over time. They now expect organic milk to be produced without the use of synthetic hormones. The Breeding Sub-Committee realizes that some growers may need to learn new methods to address post-parturition issues, but we believe that the knowledge and materials are present, so it does not There will be no disruption of trade, economic hardship or decrease in animal welfare if this material is removed from the national list of approved synthetics.

Thus, the NOSB decided that oxytocin did not meet either the essentiality criterion or the compatibility criterion. The USDA ignored the NOSB’s decision and, unlike the OFPA, which prohibits the USDA from adding to the national list any synthetic that has not been recommended by the NOSB, issued a final rule – which will enter into force on March 30, 2022 – re-listing oxytocin.

Tell USDA Secretary Vilsack to reverse the decision to allow oxytocin in organic dairy products. Tell Congress that more oversight is needed to make sure the USDA follows the law on organic food production.

Letter to USDA Secretary, Vilsack:

The USDA’s decision to re-list oxytocin to the national list of synthetic materials allowed in organic production is contrary to the expectations of organic consumers and the letter of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA).

Organic consumers expect organic milk to be produced without added hormones. Milk, because it is an important food for children, is particularly important for biological integrity.

In addition, taking any action to re-list a synthetic material to the National List despite a recommendation to the contrary by the National Organic Standards Board is expressly prohibited by OFPA’s “no additions” clause (§6517(d)(2)).

I am extremely disturbed by the actions taken by the USDA that threaten the biological integrity and the role of the NOSB in representing the biological community. The final rule is due to come into effect on March 30. I ask that you revoke the rule before that date.

Thank you.

Letter to U.S. Representative and Senators:

I am writing to you out of concern that the USDA’s administration of the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) is not consistent with either the law or the needs of the people for whom it was designed. In particular, the USDA’s recent decision to re-list oxytocin on the national list of synthetic materials permitted in organic production is contrary to the expectations of organic consumers and the letter of the OFPA.

Organic consumers expect organic milk to be produced without added hormones. Milk, because it is an important food for children, is particularly important for biological integrity. And yet the USDA, contrary to the recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), re-listed the synthetic hormone oxytocin for use in organic dairy products.

Further, taking action to re-list a synthetic material to the National List despite a NOSB recommendation to the contrary is expressly prohibited by OFPA’s “No Additions” clause (§6517(d)(2)).

I am extremely disturbed by the actions taken by the USDA that threaten the biological integrity and the role of the NOSB in representing the biological community. The final rule is due to come into effect on March 30. Please ask the USDA to revoke the rule before this date.

Thank you.