It’s true that synthetics are generally not allowed in organic production. But, some synthetics like methionine—a feed additive currently allowed in organic chicken and egg feed — are temporarily permitted as an exception to the rule. “Temporarily” is the operative word here.
It is expected that the use of the synthetic substance will end. Organic regulations are meant to facilitate growth of organic markets. That’s why regulations allow farmers and food producers to temporarily use a synthetic ingredient or additive when an alternative isn’t readily available. As long as the substance doesn’t harm human and environmental health, organic producers can apply for a 5 year temporary waiver while searching for a non-synthetic equivalent.
If approved, that synthetic is added to the “National List” of allowed substances.
While it is true that “methionine is an essential amino acid that egg laying hens need in reliable consistent quantities,” as the sign states, the methionine eaten by chickens doesn’t need to be synthetic. Chickens produce reliable and consistent quantities of eggs in their natural, methionine-rich pasture environment where they feed on worms and insects.
The issue about whether to prohibit synthetic methionine gets at the heart of organic standards. In the intervening years prior to Sunset, it’s up to the organic egg industry to seek out and implement alternatives. In this spirit, CFS strongly believes that the National Organic Program must permanently prohibit the use of synthetic methionine at its Sunset date of 2017.