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FAQ -- rec.gardens.ecosystems: Appendix A

Organic Certification Standards

The 1996 International Certification Standard is set by the Organic Crop Improvement Association. It is generally regarded as the accepted standard by most governmental agencies throughout the world. The U.S. Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 which mandated that the USDA oversee which materials could or could not be used on crops for the U.S. market. The National Organic Standards Board of the USDA is in the process of drafting a National List. The materials lists are similar but not the same and both are included in this appendix.

The 1996 OCIA International Certification Standard; Section Eight; Materials List


ALLOWED (A) materials are materials that may be used on land and crops in the OCIA Certification program

RESTRICTED (R) materials are allowed by OCIA with certain restrictions, and only if no alternatives are feasible. The use of these materials is discouraged. In many cases, the permitted use of these materials is dependent on the specific source, and demonstration that the material is free from contamination. In some cases, there is simply not enough information about a material.

PROHIBITED (P) materials may not be used on land in the certification program, or in the production of any crops grown on land in the certification program. At least three years must pass after the use of any prohibited substances before land which has received that substance may be certified

Synthetic Pesticides (P) All synthetic derived pesticides not specifically mentioned by name
Adhesive Traps (A)
Alfalfa Pellets (A) Used as soil amendment; Typical analysys: 3-1-2; unknown growth factors
Alkali Carbonates (R) For disinfecting livestock facilities only
Ammonia Products (P)
Anti-Coagulant Rodenticides (R) May not be used directly or in bait stations on certified land. May be used with restrictions in processing facilities, see processing standards
Antibiotics (P)
Arsenic Pressure-Treated Lumber (R) There is a strong concern about uptake of arsenic compounds from pressure treated lumber used for trelllising vines and other field applications. All possible alternatives should be explored before use
Bacillus Thuringenses (A) Wetable powder and bait form preferred. Liquid forms containing xxylene or petroleum distillates are prohibited.
Bactericides, Synthetic (P)
Balsalt (A) Typical analysis: 0-0-0; good slow release trace elements, but only 3% potash
Beneficial Organisms (A) Includes insects, nematodes, decollate snails, microbial fungiciides, strepto- mycin bacteria for fire blight control (not for use on livestock). No genetically engineered organisms.
Biodynamic Preparations (A)
Biological Controls (A) Such as microbes or insects
Biotite Mica (A) Typical analysis:0-0-1; very slow release
Bird Baits (P)
Bird Traps and Netting (A)
Bleach, (sodium hypchlorite) (R) In livestock production for disinfecting facilities only. OK for disinfecting farm implements. Preferred to other synthetic disinfectants. See Chlorine for further restrictions.
Blended Fertilizer Products (A) In the end it comes down to specific products and the trustworthiness of the manufacturer. The operative procedure is most definitely BUYER BEWARE. If the manufacturer will give you a detailed list of ingredients, and the fertilizer actually corresponds to that list of ingredients (it often doesn't), you can make a decision on the basis of the materials listed above. If you don't know what it is don't buy it!
Blood Meal (A)
Bone Meal (A)
Bordeaux Mixes (A) Mined minerals preferred. Use with caution. Build-up of copper in soil may prohibit future use.
Boric Acid (H3BO3) (A) Not for use on edible product parts. Can not be in direct contact with soil or plant tissue.
Boron Products (A) May only be used if soil tests show deficiency
Calcium Nitrate (P)
Carbamates (P)
Carbon Dioxide (A) Permitted for both post-harvest and soil use. May be used as a fumigant in stored commodities
Carbonates (A) OK for trace element source
Carrot Oil (P)
Caustic Potash See Potassium Hydroxide
Chelates (R) Acceptable if chelating agent is from a natural source. Ligno-sulphates are acceptable. Natural chelating agents include citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, and other di- and tri- acids. EDTA is a synthetic and is not permitted.
Chilean Nitrate (P) See sodium nitrate
Chlorinated Hydrocarbons (P)
Chlorine (Cl) (R) Highly toxic and volatile. Use with caution. Includes sodium hypochlorite (see Bleach)
Citrus Oil (A)
Cocoa Bean Hills (R) May contain residues of pesticides banned in U.S. Use only if documented to be residue-free
Colloidal Phos (A) Typical analysis: 0-2-0; limited value unless mixed with manure; 18% total P2P5
Composts (A) Composting refers to the process in which organic materials are digested aerobically or anaerobically by microbial action. In order to effectively stabilize the nutrients in compost, neuralize pesticide residues and kill weed seeds and pathogens, compost piles must reach a temperature of 120 to 140 degrees F. for a period of about 6 weeks. Composts should remain moist but not waterlogged for the whole decompostion period for best results. Written documentation of source of off- farm materials is required. No OCIA prohibited materials may be used in composting, including synthetically fortified compost starters. Growers should obtain a list of the main ingredients in any purchased composts. See also microbial compost inoculants
Copper (R) May be fed or injected to livestock to treat documented mineral deficiencies
Copper Hydroxide (R) Considered a Bordeaux. More toxic than copper sulfate, but application rate is less
Copper Sulfate (farm) (A) Acceptable as a Bordeaux. Use with caution and restraint. May cause a copper accumulation in the soil
Copper Sulfate (Livestock) (R) Footbath only for livestock
Cotton Gin Trash (R) This material is potentially more contaminated than cottonseed meal because many residues are in the hull of the cottonseed. Composting is REQUIRED before use (See Cottonseed Meal)
Cottonseed Meal (R) May contain substantial pesticide residuues. Use only if documented to be residue-free or it MUST be composted prior to use. (See Compost for guidelines). Proper composting has been shown to break down toxcic residues.
Deer and Rabbit repellents (R) Acceptable if derived from a natural repellent source, providing synthetic additives are not used.
Diatomaceous Earth (R) Non-heated forms only are allowed. Use a dust mask when applying to prevent lung irritation. Make sure no synthetic pesticides or synergists are added
Dimethyl Sulfoxide (P)
Dolomite (A) May cause a build-up of magnesium. Use With caution
Dormant Oils (A) Approved for use as a dormant spray on Woody plants only (See Suffocating Oils)
Enzymes (A) Acceptable if derived microbiologically from natural materials and not fortified with synthetic plant nutrients
Ethylene (CH2CH2) (R) May be used only in cases where use is deemed essential to get the crop to market and requires internal review pre-approval
Ethylene Oxide (R) Growers wishing to use them must obtain consent of the internal review committee first
Fish Emulsion (A) Forms which are "fortified" with synthetic plant nutrients are prohibited. Stabilizied products are acceptable
Fish Meal (A)
Formaldehyde (H-CHO) (P)
Fortified Humic (P)
Fruit Waxes (R) Must not contain any synthetic substances. May not be used on edible plant parts. Acceptable materials include carnuba or wood-extracted wax
Fumigants (P) Cannot be used for soil treatment, post- harvest handling, or in packing materials
Fungicides, synthetic (P)
Garlic (A)
Gibberelic Acid (R) Acceptable if made from a fermentation process and not fortifies with synthetics substances
Grape and other Pomaces (A) Aerobic composting required before use if from non-organic source
Growth Enhancers (A) Must not contain synthetic substances
Growth Regulators (P) Includes all formulations of the synthetic propagation hormone IBA (Indol-3-butyric acid), as well as the growth regulator NAA (1-Naphthalene acetic acid) IAA (Indol acetic acid)is a natural growth regulator
Gyano, Bat or Bird (A) See Manures, Animal
Gypsum By Product (P) Can contain large quantities of herb- icide and pesticide residues. Much of it the by-product of sheet rock manufacture and may contain fungicides, fire retardants and other harmful chemicals. Mined gypsum is a reasonably priced alternatiive and is strongly recommended
Herbal Preparations (A) May not be extracted with synthetic chemicals
Herbicides, Synthetic (P)
Horn and Hoof Meal (A)
Humates (A) Humates are usually natural deposits which are mined and may have high trace mineral contents. Acceptable if derived from leonardite, lignite, or coal, not acceptable if fortified with synthetic ingredients
Humic Acid Derivatives (A) These are extracts of humates which may be made with either natural or unnatural processes. Only acceptable if derived from natural sources and not fortified
Hydrated Lime (R) Foliar application as a fungicide only
Hydrogen Peroxide (A)
Insect Extracts (A) ("bug juice", etc.)
Iodine (R) External disinfectant and foot bath for livestock
Ionizng Radiation (P) i.e., irradiation or pico-waved
Kelp Extracts (A) Not acceptable if containing formaldehyde or fortified with synthetic plant nutrients
Kelp Meal (A) Allowed in livestock production also
Kiln Dust (A) Toxic if used in excess, apply with caution
Leather Dust (R) (residue from hide processing). Likely to be contaminated with chromium and other metal solvents which are used in leather processing. Testing may be required.
Lime (Calcium Oxide; CaO) (A) For disinfecting livestock facilities or cleaning processing plants where adequate rinsing is provided
Lime Sulfur (R) (includes Calcium Polysulphide). Foliar application as a fungicide allowed. May be used as an insecticide only if there are no feasable alternatives
Limestone (A) Oyster shell flour, dolomite, and mined CaC)3 are accpetable. Sugarbeet lime is a restricted material. (See Sugar Beet Lime)
Lye (See Potassium Hydroxide and Sodium Hydroxide)
Manures, Animal (A) Must be aerobically composted, preferably by turning and keeping moist and warm until well broken down (see definition of composting under Compost). Raw manures are considered as restricted materials (see Manures, Raw)
Manures, Raw (R) Can be harmful to soil life and cause unhealthy levels of nitrates in produce and salt build-up in soils. Can also contain pesticide residues depending on what the animal has been eating. Composting strongly recommended since it can stabilize the nitrogen content, kill weed seeds, and help neutralize pesticide residues. (See Manures, Animal). Fresh and "sheet composted" manures are allowed only in MODERATE amounts and as a supplement to other soil-building practices. Please be especially careful when using on crops which can accucmulate nitrates such as leafy greens, radishes and beets. Uncomposted manure that has been turned and free of internal frost for at least six months prior to application is permitted. Fresh, aerated, anaerobic, or "sheet composted" manaures are permitted on perennials or crops not for human consumption, or when a crop for human consumsption is not to be harvested for at least four monthhs following the application. At application the soil must be sufficiently warm (about 10 C) and moist to ensure active microbial digestion. On radishes, leafy green, the beet family, and other known nitrate accumulators fresh, aerated, anaerobic, or "sheet composted" manures may not be applied less than four months before planting and the soil must be sufficiently warm and moist to ensure active microbial digestion. All manure sources and management techniques must be clearly documented as a part of the certification process.
Methyl Bromide (P)
Methyl Sulfoxide (P)
Microbial Plant Inoculants (A) Including rhizobia bacteria, mycorrhizae, azolla, azotobacter, etc.
Microbial Soil Compost & Seed Inoculants (A) Naturally occuring microbes only. No synthetic preservatives or fortifications are allowed. The liquid preparations often contain sodium sulfites which are NOT allowed. Powdered forms are recommended because of their natural origins and because they have been shown to generally be more effective.
Micronutrient Sprays (R) Materials derived from natural sources are recommended. Synthetic sources of micro nutrients are allowed only to correct deficiencies determined by soil or plant tissue tests.
Mined Minerals (A) A mined mineral must not have undergone any change in the molecular structure through heating or combining with other susbstances. Some of the minerals which are mined can also be made synthetically or are by-products of industry; investigate the source of any new material. Acceptable if the material is not processed or fortified with synthetic chemicals. Example of natural mined minerals include phosphate rock, soil-min, greensand, zeolie, granite dust, nutri-min and limestone.
Moth Balls/Moth Crystals (P) (see Napthalene)
Mulches (A) It is recommended that organic materials to be used for mulch be documented to be pesticide free. (See restrictions under Plastic Mulch). Biodegradable plastic mulch is still synthetic so that the same restrictions apply as for plastic.
Muriate of Potash (P) Prohibited because of high chloride content
Mushroom Compost (R) May contain substantial pesticide residues. Use only if documented to be Residue-free or it MUST be recomposted before use. (See Compost for Guidelines)
Naphthalene (P)
Nematociides (P) Synthetically compounded
Nicotine (P) Prohibited because of extreme toxicity
Nitrate, Ammonium (P) Typical Analysis; 34-0-0
Nitrate, Potassium (P) Typical Analysis; 13-0-44
Nitrogen (A) For use in controlled atmosphere storage and package flushing.
Organophosphate (P)
Peat Moss (A) Must not contain artifical wetting agents. Wear a dust mask when working with peat moss as the dust from it has been shown to sometimes cause lung infections.
Perlite (A)
Pesticides, Synthetic (P)
Petroleum Distillates (P) These are used as additivies and some- times as inert ingredients in other products. Can be carcinogenic when formulated with aromatic petroleum products such as phenols and benzene. There is good reason to believe that these materials are very toxic to humans.
Petroleum Oil (spreader-stickers, carriers) (R) Dormant spray adjuvants and summer oils acceptable for use on woody perennials only.
Pheromones (A) Naturally derived pheromones are recom- mended. May not be combined with synthetic pesticides.
Phosphate Rock (A) Must not be fortifieid with synthetic chemicals
Phosphoric Acid (P)
Piperonyl Butoxide (see Synergist, synthetic) (P) Although this material is derived from a plant source originally, it has gone through a sub- stantial molecular change in its extraction and processing. Check the labels on botanicals to make sure this is not in the product.
Plant Extracts (A) Parts of plants which have specific uses in pest control or fertility such as marigolds, sesame chaff and equistem (horsetails) as permitted.
Plant Protectants (synthetic) (P)
Plastic Feed Pellets (P) For livestock
Plastics for Mulch, Row Covers and Solarization (R) Must not be incorporated into soil or left in field to decompose. Biodegradable plastic mulches are still made synhetically and so the same restrictions apply of not being incorporated into the soil.
Potassium Hydroxide (R) For disinfecting livestock facilities or cleaning processing plants where adequate rinsing is provided.
Potassium Permanganate (R) For disinfecting livestock facilites only.
Potassium Sulfate (R) Mined materials only
Pyrethroids (P) Synthetic form of pyrethrins
Pyrethrums (R) Only naturally occuring forms are allowed. Pyrethroids are prohibited. Synthetic additives are not allowed. Must not include piperonyl butoxide. (See Piperonyl Butoxide)
Quassia (A) A botanical extract
Rodent Traps (A) Mechanical traps are acceptable but not with synthetic baits.
Rotenone (R) Very toxic, use with caution. Toxic to fish and others.
Ryania (R) Very toxic, use with caution
Sabadilla (R) Very toxic, use with caution
Sea Animal Wastes (A) Crab and shrimp shells are acceptable for nematode control if they do not contain synthetic ingredients.
Seaweed, ground (A) Typical Analysis: 1-0-2 or 0-0-3
Selenium (R) May be fed or injected to livestock to treat for documented deficienciies.
Sewage Sludge (P) Likely to be contaminated with heavy metals.
Soaps (A) Insecticidal and herbicidal soaps consisting of fatty acids derived from animal or vegetable oils okay. May also be used as adjuvants (spreader-stickers, surfactants and carriers). May be used as a disinfectant for livestock also.
Sodium Borate (A) For soil application or dilution and spraying.
Sodium Fluoaluminate (R) This material is now being mined in Greenland and the natural form is allowed with restrictions. May seriously injure some fruit. Residues can be toxic and persistent, but are easily washed off. Wash off all residues before marketing.
Sodium Hydroxide (P)
Sodium Molybdate (R) Acceptable as a last resort. Use other sources of molybdenum if at all possible.
Sodium Nitrate (P) Not allowed because of high sodium content, and lack of positive effects on soil building.
Soil Fumigants (P)
Soybean Meal (A) Used as a soil amendment. Typical Analysis: 6-1-2
Spray Adjuvants, Synthetic (P) Spreader-stickers, surfactants, carriers and wetting agents
Sticky Traps (see Adhesive Traps (A)
Strychnine (R) Botanical extract of Nox vomica. Allowed for rodent control only. Must not be left on ground surface. USE EXTREME CAUTION. Acceptable for use only if grower demonstrates continued research into alternative to strychnine.
Suffocating Oils (A) This includes dormant and summer oils on woody plants only for pest control purposes. Vegetable and animal derived oils are preferred. Petroleum based suffocating oils are also allowed. They are highly refined and made primarily of alkanes which have been shown to be relatively non-toxic to humans. (See Petroleum Distillates)
Sugar Beet Lime (R) May contain substantial herbicide residues and weed seed. Use only if documented to be residue-free.
Sulfate of Potash Magnesia (A) Sulfate of potash magnesia (derived from the mineral langebite) is acceptable. Also known as K Mag.
Sulfate of Zinc (R) May be used only to correct for defeciencies as determined by soil or plant tissue testing. May be used as trace minerals.
Sulfur (R) Acceptable for foliar use as an insect- icide, fungicide or fertilizer. Direct application to soil is discouraged. Must be from a mined source. Prohibited for post-harvest treatment.
Sulfur Dioxide (P) This prohibition appliies to any post- harvest use.
Summer Oils (A) For cautious use on woody plants only. No carrot or weed oils. (See Suffocating Oils)
Transpiration Blockers, Synthetic (P)
Transplants (P) Not grown organically (annuals)
Traps (A) Physical traps are permitted but they must not contain synthetic bait because the target pest could introduce the toxic chemical into the agro-ecosystem through their body.
Treated Seeds (R) May contain fungicides, pesticides or heavy metals. Only allowed if no other option is available for the type of seed needed. This applies for potatos for seed. Sweet potato slips are considered to be transplants and as such must be organically grown.
Tree Seals (A) Plant or milk-based paints are recom- mended but interior latex paints may be used. Other petroleum materials may be used if there is no alternative. Must not be combined with fungicides or other synthetic chemicals.
Triple Phosphate (P)
Urea (P) Includes seed starter
Vegetable Oil (A) Spreader-stickers, surfactantss and spray adjuvants carriers. Plant oil based adjuvants must be comprised of at least 90% plant oil and may not contain synthetic pesticides.
Vermiculite (A)
Virus Sprays (A) Must be approved by OCIA Internal Review Committee on a product specific basis. Codling moth Branulosis virus is acceptable. No genetically engineered viruses are allowed.
Vitamin Baits, synthetic (R) Used as a rodenticide
Vitamins, synthetic (R) Allowed for use as a food supplement in livestock
Weed Oils (P)
Wetting Agents, natural (A) Includes saponins microbial wetting Agents
Whey, Dairy (A) Used as soil amendment
Woodash (A) Typical Analysiis: 0-2-6; Be careful of sources.
Worm Castings (A)

The Organic Food Production Act of 1990; Recommendations for The National List by the National Organic Standards Board as of November, 1995

Crops Materials


I. The following materials have been determined to be synthetic and allowed for use in organic crop production:

II. The following materials have been determined to be synthetic and unacceptable for use in organic crop production:

III. The following materials have been determined to be non-synthetic and recommended for placement on the Prohibited Naturals List:

IV. The following materials have been determined to be non-synthetic and not within the scope of the National List:

V. The following materials have been tabled by the NOSB:

VI. The following petitioned materials are deemed by the NOSB to be synthetic, imcompatible with organic farming systems, prohibited by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and should not be reviewed by the Technical Advisory Panel:

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