Oct 26, 2022
OPA relays comments in National Organic Standards Board meeting
Lori Castillo, VP of Global Marketing at NatureSweet, supported the petition received requesting the addition of synthetic carbon dioxide (C02) for use in organic crop production.
She noted that supplemental C02 use in indoor crop production affords producers the opportunity to increase soil health and improve crop yields and water efficiency. Castillo also highlighted the importance of all National Organic Program (NOP) compliant growing methods being allowed in organic production.
Organic Produce Association’s mission is to meet growing consumer demand for organic produce and welcomes the opportunity to provide comments to NOSB. A copy of the oral comments are here:
“Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Lori Castillo, vice president of Global Marketing at NatureSweet – one of the largest CEA growers in North America – and I am presenting comments today on behalf of the Organic Produce Association (OPA). OPA is focused on science-based policymaking and the ability to be innovative while respecting the tradition of organics and the integrity of the USDA Organic Seal. Our members grow more than 15 different organic fruits and vegetables, both in greenhouses and in open fields, and distribute their produce to all 50 states and internationally.
OPA supports the petition received requesting the addition of synthetic carbon dioxide (C02) for use in organic crop production. As the NOSB petition notes, C02 is understood to be a material with inherently low risk and is already approved as a processing aid. Studies have shown that supplemental C02 use in indoor crop production afford producers the opportunity to increase soil health and improve crop yields and water use efficiency. Indoor agriculture typically has a very high density of plants in an enclosed space. Plants require ambient C02 during photosynthesis, and the high density of plants consume all available C02 naturally in the air, requiring the producer to supplement. Currently, the gas burning boiler exhaust is used as the supplement for the C02 requirements. The C02 is used for the plants, the heat is stored in large hot water tanks to be used that evening when the heat from the sun is no longer available and C02 is not required. Synthetic C02 would serve as an option to supplement in house production of C02 or perhaps in the case of breakdowns or equipment preventative maintenance.
Organic sales and consumption are at an all-time high, topping $9 billion in 2021. To ensure the industry remains able to meet growing consumer demand for year-round access to a variety of affordable, sustainable, wholesome organic fruits and vegetables, OPA believes all NOP compliant growing methods should be welcomed. That includes allowing substances, especially those that are already allowed for other uses, such as C02, that improve soil health and water use efficiency and increase yields.
Additionally, OPA is working on a draft container standard which we will submit to USDA and NOSB for consideration. We believe that any proposal eventually considered by the NOSB must ensure that organic products grown in containers continue to meet the NOSB’s highest standards, and we look forward to future discussions on this topic.
Thank you for your time and consideration of these comments.”