SEAFOOD: YEAR OF THE STANDARD?

Piece by piece, the National Organic Standards Board has been assembling criteria for the certification of seafood. This spring, members expect they'll fit the last pieces into place and send it over for official review. We're moving ahead in the livestock committee, coming up with recommendations to vote on, said Hubert Karreman, a Pennsylvania veterinarian and chair of the NOSB sub-panel. Much of

Piece by piece, the National Organic Standards Board has been assembling criteria for the certification of seafood. This spring, members expect they'll fit the last pieces into place and send it over for official review.

“We're moving ahead in the livestock committee, coming up with recommendations to vote on,” said Hubert Karreman, a Pennsylvania veterinarian and chair of the NOSB sub-panel.

Much of the proposed rule has already been approved by the board and is awaiting final approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, certain areas stubbornly resisted resolution — issues of significant importance to supermarkets, since they revolved primarily around farmed salmon, a seafood department best seller.

Members anticipate they'll get to vote on standards for these components of the rule at the full board's spring meeting in mid-May.

Some observers are cautious about the timeline. Rebecca Goldburg, senior scientist at Environmental Defense, who worked on the seafood standard, noted that USDA is understaffed and underfunded, and that there are outside influences as well.

“You have to keep in mind that, in an election year, things either happen really, really quickly, or not at all,” she said.