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Organic foods are not necessarily pesticide-free. In the United States, only pesticides that meet the criteria of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program may be used in organic crop production.

Sometimes people refer to pesticides based on natural substances as "organic pesticides," or "naturally derived pesticides." Pesticides allowed in organic agriculture are typically not human-made, although there are exceptions. They tend to have natural substances like minerals and plant extracts as ingredients. However, not all natural substances are allowed in organic production. Natural substances like arsenic, strychnine, and tobacco dust (nicotine sulfate) are prohibited.

Additional Resources

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Last updated June 09, 2023