The NOP rule sets standards for production and handling, product labeling, certification and accreditation.

  • Production and handling. NOP regulations prohibit the use of irradiation, sewage sludge or genetically modified organisms in organic production. Natural (nonsynthetic) substances and only synthetic substances on the National List of Allowed Synthetic and Prohibited Non-Synthetic Substances are allowed in organic production. The standards prohibit antibiotics in organic meat and poultry and require 100 percent organic feed for organic livestock.

  • Labeling. Language used on product labels is based on a percentage of organic ingredients in the product. For example, products labeled “100 percent organic” must contain only organically produced ingredients. Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. Only products that meet the requirements for “100 percent organic” and “organic” may display the USDA Organic seal.

  • Certification. These standards establish the requirements, such as an organic system plan and on-site inspections, to become a USDA-accredited certifying agent.

  • Accreditation. These ethical standards are meant to ensure that all organic certifying agents act consistently and impartially.