Organic Certification Worldwide



Introduction

Why Organic?

>> Organic Certification Worldwide

In some countries, organic standards are formulated and overseen by the government. The United States, the European Union and Japan have comprehensive organic legislation, and the term "organic" may be used only by certified producers. In countries without organic laws, government guidelines may or may not exist, while certification is handled by non-profit organizations and private companies.

EU countries acquired comprehensive organic legislation with the implementation of the EU-Eco-regulation 1992. Certification is handled on the national level.

In the United Kingdom, organic certification is handled by a number of organizations, of which the largest are the Soil Association and Organic Farmers and Growers. All the certifying bodies are subject to the regulations of the UK Register of Organic Food Standards (UKROFS), which itself is bound by EU legislation.

In Sweden, organic certification is handled by the private corporation KRAV.

In the US, the National Organic Program (NOP), was enacted as federal legislation in Oct. 2002. It restricts the use of the term "organic" to certified organic producers (excepting growers selling under $5,000 a year, who must still comply and submit to a records audit if requested, but do not have to formally apply). Certification is handled by state, non-profit and private agencies that have been approved by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

One of the first organizations to carry out organic certification in North America was the California Certified Organic Farmers, founded in 1973.

"a rider attached to the 2006 Agricultural Appropriations bill passed by the Senate on Sept 22, threatens to undermine the Harvey ruling. According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a Minnesota-based industry watchdog group, the rider would allow more synthetic ingredients in foods labeled 'organic' by the Department of Agriculture."

In Canada, the government has published a national organic standard, but it is a guideline only; legislation is in process. Certification is provided by private sector organizations. In Quebec, provincial legislation provides government oversight of organic certification within the province, through the Quebec Accreditation Board (Conseil D'Accréditation Du Québec).

In Japan, the Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) was fully implemented as law in April, 2001. This was revised in November of 2005 and all JAS certifiers were required to be re-accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture.

In Australia, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is the controlling body for organic certification because there are no domestic standards for organic produce within Australia. Currently the government only becomes involved with organic certification at export, meaning AQIS is the default certification agency. Although there is no system for monitoring the labeling of organic produce sold within Australia, this primarily effects the retail public. Commercial buyers for whom this is an issue have simply taken the export system as a de facto standard and are willing to pay premium prices for produce from growers certified under the National schemes. As of 2006, there are seven AQIS-approved certifying organisations authorised to issue Organic Produce Certifcates, and in 2004 there were 2345 certified operators. The largest importer of Australia's organic produce (by weight) is Japan (33.59%), followed by the UK (17.51%), France (10.51%), and New Zealand (10.21%). The largest certifier of organic products is Australian Certified Organic, which is a subsidiary of Biological Farmers Australia, the largest organic farmers' collective in the country.

Internationally, equivalency negotiations are underway, and some agreements are already in place, to harmonize certification between countries, facilitating international trade. There are also international certification bodies, including members of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), and Ecocert. Where formal agreements do not exist between countries, organic product for export is often certified by agencies from the importing countries, who may establish permanent foreign offices for this purpose.

In China, the China Green Food Development Center awards two Standards: A and AA; while the former standard does permit some use of synthetic agricultural chemicals, the latter is more stringent.