USDA Certified Organic indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced and processed using approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.
The organic crop production standards require that:
Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop.
Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials.
Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used.
Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available.
The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited.