Federal Organic Aquaculture Recommendations Due in May

April 30, 2008

The parallel rising demands for organic food and aquaculture products may soon converge. The US National Organic Standards Board is scheduled to announce during a May 20-22, 2008, meeting in Baltimore more components of its proposed standards for organic aquaculture products. You can get an early look at some of the nuances of the proposals at:

These recommendations may be different when presented in Baltimore, says the Organic Consumers Association's Ronnie Cummins.

The topics to be covered in Baltimore are part of a larger package of issues to be addressed in the standards, which were published for public review in 2007. Some of the hot topics that have remained on the table as negotiations continued are the use of wild fish as food, since they can't be proven to be organic, and using them would further deplete wild fish stocks; the use of open net pens that may allow escape of fish and diseases; and the use of fish certified as organic in other countries as food for US fish, since foreign standards may allow more contamination than US standards. The Pure Salmon Campaign's Dave Bard says the last issue, at least, remains a bone of contention.

After the Baltimore meeting, it's uncertain what the timing will be on a final standard for organic aquaculture, in part because a few issues, such as standards for mollusks and the use of open net pens, remain undecided, says Environmental Defense Fund's Becky Goldburg, 212-616-1236, who is a member of the NOSB Aquaculture Working Group.

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