However, the National Organic Program received test results from only 13 certifiers in 2011, indicating tests were done at less than 1% of the 30,000 operations certified as organic that year. Six of the 13 reporting certifiers in 2011 were based outside the U.S. where tests are mandatory. According to the NOP, there are 112 certifiers recognized by the USDA to audit growers in the U.S. and other countries.
“The final rule expands the amount of residue testing … by clarifying that sampling and testing are required on a regular basis,” the notice states. “This action will help further ensure the integrity of products produced and handled under the NOP regulations.”
Based on submitted comments, the NOP officials decided to allow tests conducted for causative reasons to count toward the 5% minimum. All test results must be kept by certifiers for at least three years and must be available for public review.
However, the revised rule eliminates the requirement to report all test results. Effective Jan. 1, only results that “are in violation of (Environmental Protection Agency) or FDA requirements must be reported to the appropriate state health agency or foreign equivalent.”
The periodic testing is not limited to finished products. The revised rule states tests can be done on soil, water, waste, seeds, plant tissue and processed product samples.
Certifiers have the flexibility to test for a range of prohibited and excluded methods, including, but not limited to, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetically modified organisms. Certifiers that handle 30 or less operations in a year are required to do periodic residue testing on at least one of the operations.