Under the name of “Tokyo Salad,” the Japanese subway operator Tokyo Metro is growing lettuce, salad greens, and herbs in a hydroponic warehouse under an elevated section of its Tozai Line, said the Mainichi newspaper.
For 15 years, USDA has allowed hydroponic crops to be sold as organic and, at a meeting this week in Jacksonville, Fla., the advisory National Organic Standards Board decided to let that practice continue. The board rejected, 8-7, a proposal to deny the USDA Organic label to hydoponics and aquaponics despite a long-running campaign to limit the label to plants grown in soil.
Francis Thicke, who owns a certified organic dairy farm in Iowa, is ending his five-year term on the National Organic Standards Board with criticism of the influence of “big business” on the USDA organic program and with support for an add-on organic label that “represents real organic food.”
On a 10-4 vote, the National Organic Standards Board sent back to subcommittee the contentious question whether bioponics, a term covering hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics, are part of organic agriculture, reports Food Safety News. "This means that food grown using hydroponic methods may continue to be certified as organic" if producers meet other criteria for the organic label, said FSN.
The USDA "has quietly allowed a flood of hydroponically produced fruits and vegetables, largely imported, to be illegally labeled and sold as 'organic,'" says Cornucopia Institute in a complaint filed with the Agricultural Marketing Service, which oversees the organic food program. Cornucopia acted ahead of a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board, on Nov. 16-18, where the USDA advisory board may vote on whether hydroponic crops may be labeled as organic.
A USDA task force set out to determine in September 2015 whether fruit and vegetables are ‘organic’ if they’re grown in a medium other than soil. More than 10 months later, they issued a report that is “anything but conclusive,” writes Civil Eats.
The military is in the midst of a $100,000-project to grow hydroponic vegetables on submarines, says The Christian Science Monitor. So far the experiments have been on land, but researchers are hopeful that they’ll soon be able to take the technology to sea and improve the notoriously tired fare served to sailors.