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This is from Dr. Barry Flamm, who served on the NOSB Crops Committee at the time that they passed the 2010 Greenhouse Recommendation calling for the prohibition of hydroponics in organic certification. That recommendation was at first ignored and then set aside in 2014 by the USDA:

“I have been committed to protecting organic integrity as the founders advocated and practiced, and as required in Law by the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA). A key requirement in OFPA is for soil in Organic production systems. To certify non-soil systems as Organic is, in my opinion, a clear violation of the Law’s wording and intent. The NOP (National Organic Program) has been negligent in allowing this improper certification to occur and continue.


“Natural soils are very complex, being made up of minerals, organic matter and living organisms. The protection and restoration of soils is a basic concept of natural resource conservation. Healthy natural soils are the only sure way to produce and sustain healthy foods. Simple additions of a few chemicals to the water in hydroponic systems or containers that contain what may look like real soil will not provide our food with the nutrients we need for a healthy diet. Let us not deceive organic consumers that they are getting healthy food just because it is labeled organic, though grown without soil. This is pure deception.

“Another concern of mine is the environmental impact of obtaining these chemicals and other materials, and their disposal.

 “The goal of organic systems is to improve and sustain agricultural soils. Hydroponics and pots do neither. Soil needs organics, and Organics must have Soil.”


Dr.Flamm (who has a PhD in Biodiversity Conservation) has a lifetime of dedicated involvement in natural resource conservation and environmental protection. Among many activities and achievements, this has included serving on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) from 2008- 2013. While there he served as Board Chairperson, as well as Chair of the Policy Development Committee, Member of the Crops Committee, and Member of the Compliance, Accreditation, & Certification Committee. He was also the first certified organic cherry grower in Montana, a founding member of the Montana State Organic Program and the Montana Organic Association, from which he received their Lifetime of Service Award. He is presently a Board Member of the Cornucopia Institute.

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