ALBUQUERQUE, NM: Passions flared at the semiannual meeting of the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the federal advisory panel approved a number of synthetic ingredients for use in organics, over the objection of the majority of industry participants.
The meeting came on the heels of the release of a report by an organic industry watchdog, The Cornucopia Institute, outlining corrupt practices in the constitution of the board and their past approval processes. The NOSB, created by Congress, is legally mandated to ensure that no substances are allowed in organic foods that pose a threat to human health or the environment.
The most controversial material approved at the meeting was carrageenan, a stabilizer and thickener synthesized from seaweed. Carrageenan has been shown to trigger gastrointestinal inflammation, which is known to cause serious intestinal disease, including cancer. “Degraded carrageenan,” which is present in all food-grade carrageenan, is classified as a “possible human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Academy of Science in United States.