At the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Standards Board’s (NOSB) October 25-28, 2010, meeting, NOSB unanimously recommended that the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) prohibit engineered nanomaterials from certified organic products. NOSB considered a September 2, 2010, guidance document prepared by its Materials Committee concerning engineered nanomaterials in organic production, processing, and packaging. According to the Materials Committee, public comment “overwhelmingly agrees that nanotechnology in organic production and processing be prohibited at this time.” The Materials Committee notes, however, that “there is considerable debate and disagreement on what exactly nanotechnology is and what products of nanotechnology should be prohibited.”. The Materials Committee requested that the NOP allow NOSB to call for a symposium “to discuss the issues related to the human-engineered portion of this science,” which “would help to clarify these confusing issues, and serve to educate both the Board and the NOP on this topic.”

The Materials Committee proposed, and the NOSB approved, the following definition of engineered nanomaterials:


Engineered nanomaterials:  substances deliberately designed, engineered and produced by human activity to be in the nanoscale range (approx 1-300 nm) because of very specific properties or compositions (e.g. shape, surface properties, or chemistry) that result only in that nanoscale.  Incidental particles in the nanoscale range created during traditional food processing such as homogenization, milling, churning, and freezing, and naturally occurring particles in the nanoscale range are not intended to be included in this definition.  All nanomaterials (without exception) containing capping reagents or other synthetic components are intended to be included in this definition.