February 15, 2008


 USDA allows more synthetic drugs in organic livestock production

Posted Feb. 1, 2008

Veterinarians may now use additional synthetic drugs—atropine, butorphanol, flunixin, furosemide, magnesium hydroxide, poloxalene, tolazoline, and xylazine—in organic livestock production, under certain restrictions.

The Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service recently published a final rule amending the National Organic Program's National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances to add a handful of synthetic substances for use in organic livestock production. The rule enacts recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board between late 2000 and early 2005.

The USDA had received a number of comments opposing addition of any synthetic substances in organic livestock production. The department determined, however, that the record supports the need for livestock medications in the interest of humane treatment.

For many of the synthetic drugs, the new rule specifies longer meat and milk withdrawal times in organic livestock production than in traditional livestock production. The USDA indicated that it did not use food safety arguments to support the extension of withdrawal periods. Rather, the department determined that longer withdrawal periods are more compatible with consumer expectations of organic livestock production.

For atropine, the rule requires a meat withdrawal interval of at least 56 days and a milk discard period of at least 12 days in organic livestock production. For butorphanol, the meat withdrawal interval is 42 days and the milk discard period is eight days.

The withdrawal periods for flunixin and furosemide in organic livestock production must be at least two times the withdrawal periods that the Food and Drug Administration has specified for traditional production.

The new rule limits the use of xylazine in organic livestock production to emergency situations. The rule allows tolazoline only to reverse the effects of xylazine. For both drugs, producers must adhere to a meat withdrawal interval of eight days and a milk discard period of four days.

The new rule permits magnesium hydroxide in organic livestock production under the usual FDA regulations. The rule allows poloxalene only for the emergency treatment of bloat. Also, producers may now use peroxyacetic/peracetic acid to sanitize equipment.

The rule appeared in the Dec. 12, 2007, issue of the Federal Register. Back issues are available at www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/browse.html.

Additional information is available from Robert Pooler, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA/AMS/TM/NOP, Room 4008-So., Ag Stop 0268, 1400 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, DC 20250; phone, (202) 720-3252.