FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I know if a material (fertilizer, pesticide, sanitizer, etc.) is acceptable to use in my operation?
Contact the MOSA office! Let us know the exact brand name and manufacturer, and we will look up the product in our database of products we have reviewed, or we will begin the review process for you.
What if the product has the OMRI Seal on it; does that mean I can use the product in my operation?
MOSA does allow all OMRI listed products for the use specified in the OMRI Products List. (However, it's safest to ask MOSA about OMRI listed products before using, since products can be OMRI-approved with certain restrictions, and since the OMRI list of products changes frequently.) Manufacturers of OMRI listed products have paid OMRI to review their products, which means that, while all OMRI approved products are allowed for their designated use, there are many products that are acceptable for organic use but are not OMRI listed. It's up to certification agencies (like MOSA) to determine if the products not reviewed by OMRI are acceptable.
Are there other organizations that approve inputs for organic operations?
MOSA also allows the use of products approved by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the use of pesticides approved "For Organic Production" (or Gardening) by the Environmental Protection Agency.
I keep hearing about the "National List". What's that?
The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances is a section of the National Organic Standards that lists substances (a.k.a. materials or inputs) allowed and prohibited in organic farming and processing. The List isn't comprehensive of all materials allowed and prohibited, since it assumes that natural substances are allowed in organic farming (unless they are on the List of prohibited natural materials), and assumes that synthetic substances are prohibited (unless they are on the List of allowed synthetic materials).
What is this Input Inventory form I received with my MOSA application?
The Input Inventory Form is a record MOSA uses to keep track of all of the inputs (also known as materials) used (or proposed for use) by each client in their operation. There are Handler, Crop, and Livestock Input Inventory forms, so some operations (such as a dairy farm) have multiple Input Inventories. In the left-side "Office Use Only" section, MOSA notes whether the material is allowed or not. Each year, MOSA clients update their Input Inventories by crossing off those materials they won't use again, and adding materials they are requesting for review by MOSA.
Are all natural substances allowed in organic farming?
No. For farming, there are sections of the National List for the natural ("non-synthetic") substances which are prohibited for use with organic crops and livestock. Examples of these include arsenic, strychnine, and tobacco dust. Also, there are many inputs which, while natural, include small quantities of synthetic additives that make the substance prohibited for organic use. Examples of these include petroleum-based dust suppressants used on mined (i.e. natural) fertility amendments (such as potassium chloride), or synthetic flow agents (such as yellow prussiate of soda) on salt. If a natural substance is not on either of the lists of prohibited materials, and can be shown to be free of prohibited synthetic additives, then it would be allowed. Since many products may appear to be all-natural but nonetheless contain prohibited minor ingredients, products must first be approved by MOSA (or one of the four authorized agencies mentioned above) for their intended use before they can be used on MOSA-certified farms.
Are all natural substances allowed in organic processing?
No. For processing, the ingredients must be from certified organic agriculture (crops or livestock products) or be on the National List, which is a bit different for processing than for farming: there is no list of prohibited ingredients; there are three lists of allowed non-organic substances: nonsynthetic materials (like dairy cultures), synthetic materials, and non-organic agricultural products (mostly food colors).
Are all synthetic substances prohibited in organic farming and processing?
No. The National List includes sections for synthetic substances allowed in crop and livestock farming and in processing (of food, feed, and fiber). In other words, synthetic substances are prohibited UNLESS they are included in the section of the List that pertains to the way that the material will be used, and these Lists usually contain very specific restrictions regarding the allowed uses. As familiar examples, hydrogen peroxide is allowed in organic crop farming for four specific uses, aspirin is allowed to reduce inflammation in livestock, and ammonium carbonate is allowed in organic food processing as a leavening agent.
Does MOSA have a list of allowed materials?
MOSA maintains a database of the materials that we have reviewed, and can inform clients of particular products that have been reviewed as allowed for an intended use. However, MOSA does not regularly release the information as a list because it changes frequently and many materials have particular restrictions that must be followed.
My dealer said that a particular product was allowed in organic farming/processing. Does that mean that the material is allowed for me to use?
No. You must still contact MOSA to verify that MOSA allows the material for the intended use, or you must verify that OMRI (or WSDA, CDFA, or EPA) currently approves the material for the intended use.
I know a particular material is allowed for use in my neighbor's organic operation. Does that mean it's allowed for use in my operation?
No; a certification agency's approval of a material for one client doesn't apply to another client's use of that material. Each client must independently verify with their certifier that a material is acceptable for use in their organic operation, unless the material is OMRI listed (or approved by WSDA, CDFA, or EPA) for the use intended by the client.