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Encyclopedia > Organic certification
Mixed organic bean sprouts
Mixed organic bean sprouts

Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants. Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include: Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2048x1536, 1930 KB) Mixed Organic Bean Shoots Image by Atelier Joly April 5th 2005 Sony Cybershot DSC-P72 File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Organic food Sprouting... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2048x1536, 1930 KB) Mixed Organic Bean Shoots Image by Atelier Joly April 5th 2005 Sony Cybershot DSC-P72 File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Organic food Sprouting... Mixed bean sprouts Sprouting is the practice of soaking, draining, then rinsing at regular intervals seeds until they germinate and begin to sprout. ... Product certification or product qualification is the cornerstone of all bounding and the process of certifying that a certain product has passed performance and/or quality assurance tests or qualification requirements stipulated in regulations such as a building code and nationally accredited test standards, or that it complies with a... An organically-grown apple. ... Wall Street, Manhattan is the location of the New York Stock Exchange and is often used as a symbol for the world of business. ... A ripe red jalapeño cut open to show the seeds For other uses, see Seed (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Farmer (disambiguation). ... A drawing of a self-service store Retailing consists of the sale of goods/merchandise for personal or household consumption either from a fixed location such as a department store or kiosk, or away from a fixed location and related subordinated services (Definition of the WTO (last page). ... Toms Restaurant, a restaurant in New York made familiar by Suzanne Vega and the television sitcom Seinfeld A restaurant is an establishment that serves prepared food and beverages to order, to be consumed on the premises. ... In political geography and international politics a country is a geographical entity, a territory, most commonly associated with the notions of state or nation. ...

  • avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc) and genetically modified organisms;
  • use of farmland that has been free from chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more);
  • keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
  • maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
  • undergoing periodic on-site inspections.

In some countries, certification is overseen by the government, and commercial use of the term organic is legally restricted. Certified organic producers are also subject to the same agricultural, food safety and other government regulations that apply to non-certified producers. In chemistry, chemical synthesis is purposeful execution of chemical reactions in order to get a product, or several products. ... Spreading manure, an organic fertilizer Fertilizers (British English fertilisers) are compounds given to plants to promote growth; they are usually applied either via the soil, for uptake by plant roots, or by foliar feeding, for uptake through leaves. ... A cropduster spreading pesticide. ... Staphylococcus aureus - Antibiotics test plate. ... Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or improve its taste and appearance. ... A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques generally known as recombinant DNA technology. ...


Purpose of certification

Organic certification addresses a growing worldwide demand for organic food. It is intended to assure quality and prevent fraud. For organic producers, certification identifies suppliers of products approved for use in certified operations. For consumers, "certified organic" serves as a product assurance, similar to "low fat", "100% whole wheat", or "no artificial preservatives".

Certification is essentially aimed at regulating and facilitating the sale of organic products to consumers. Individual certification bodies have their own service marks, which can act as branding to consumers—a certifier may promote the high consumer recognition value of its logo as a marketing advantage to producers. Most UK certification bodies operate organic standards that meet the UK government's minimum requirements. Certification bodies, such as the Soil Association, certify to higher standards. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Trademark. ... Consumers refers to individuals or households that purchase and use goods and services generated within the economy. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

The certification process

In order to certify a farm, the farmer is typically required to engage in a number of new activities, in addition to normal farming operations: Farms, East of Gorgan, Iran. ...

  • Study the organic standards, which cover in specific detail what is and is not allowed for every aspect of farming, including storage, transport and sale.
  • Compliance - farm facilities and production methods must comply with the standards, which may involve modifying facilities, sourcing and changing suppliers, etc.
  • Documentation - extensive paperwork is required, detailing farm history and current set-up, and usually including results of soil and water tests.
  • Planning - a written annual production plan must be submitted, detailing everything from seed to sale: seed sources, field and crop locations, fertilization and pest control activities, harvest methods, storage locations, etc.
  • Inspection - annual on-farm inspections are required, with a physical tour, examination of records, and an oral interview.
  • Fee - an annual inspection/certification fee (currently starting at $400-$2,000/year, in the US and Canada, depending on the agency and the size of the operation).
  • Record-keeping - written, day-to-day farming and marketing records, covering all activities, must be available for inspection at any time.

In addition, short-notice or surprise inspections can be made, and specific tests (e.g. soil, water, plant tissue) may be requested.

For first-time farm certification, the soil must meet basic requirements of being free from use of prohibited substances (synthetic chemicals, etc) for a number of years. A conventional farm must adhere to organic standards for this period, often, three years. This is known as being in transition. Transitional crops are not considered fully organic. A farm already growing without chemicals may be certified without this delay.

Certification for operations other than farms is similar. The focus is on ingredients and other inputs, and processing and handling conditions. A transport company would be required to detail the use and maintenance of its vehicles, storage facilities, containers, and so forth. A restaurant would have its premises inspected and its suppliers verified as certified organic.

Certification & Product Labelling

Being able to put the word "organic" on a food product is a valuable marketing advantage in today's consumer market. Certification is intended to protect consumers from misuse of the term, and make buying organics easy. However, the organic labelling made possible by certification itself usually requires explanation.

In the US, federal organic legislation defines three levels of organics. Products made entirely with certified organic ingredients and methods can be labelled "100% organic". Products with 95% organic ingredients can use the word "organic". Both may also display the USDA organic seal. A third category, containing a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, can be labelled "made with organic ingredients". In addition, products may also display the logo of the certification body that approved them. Products made with less than 70% organic ingredients can not advertise this information to consumers and can only mention this fact in the product's ingredient statement. Similar percentages and labels apply in the EU.

Certification around the world

Certification in India:- A major certification body in India is INDOCERT. INDOCERT is offering organic certification as per National Standards for Organic Production, rules equivalent to EEC regulation 2092/91 and USDA NOP.

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. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 600 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (768 × 768 pixel, file size: 125 KB, MIME type: image/gif) European Commission Agriculture and Rural Development The organic logo: In March 2000 the European Commission introduced a logo bearing the words Organic Farming - EC Control System... Image File history File links USDA_organic_seal. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Quality Assurance International (QAI) is a US-based international organic certification company. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... This article describes the Canadian province. ... Image File history File links JAS_organic_seal. ... Image File history File links Australian_organic_seal. ... Image File history File links German_organic_seal. ... Image File history File links Hellenic. ... A non-profit organization (often called non-profit org or simply non-profit or not-for-profit) can be seen as an organization that doesnt have a goal to make a profit. ... The term company may refer to a separate legal entity, as in English law, or may simply refer to a business, as is the common use in the United States. ...

EU countries acquired comprehensive organic legislation with the implementation of the EU-Eco-regulation 1992. Certification is handled on the national level. The European Union regulation (EEC) N° 2092/91 of the European Council of June 24 1991 on organic production of agricultural products and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs (EU-Eco-regulation) defines how agricultural products and foods that are designated as ecological products have to be grown. ...

  • 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). The Soil Association is the main umbrella group in the UK for organic farmers. ... In the United States, the National Organic Program (NOP) is the federal regulatory framework governing organic food. ... For album titles with the same name, see 2002 (album). ... The U.S. Department of Agriculture, also called the Agriculture Department, or USDA, is a Cabinet department of the United States Federal Government. ...

One of the first organizations to carry out organic certification in North America was the California Certified Organic Farmers, founded in 1973. California Certified Organic Farmers, or CCOF is a membership organization formed in the early 1970s, to promote organic farming and small-scale 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). Motto: Je me souviens (French: I remember) Capital Quebec City Largest city Montreal Official languages French Government - Lieutenant-Governor Pierre Duchesne - Premier Jean Charest (PLQ) Federal representation in Canadian Parliament - House seats 75 - Senate seats 24 Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st) Area  Ranked 2nd - Total 1,542,056 km² (595... A province is a territorial unit, almost always a country subdivision. ...

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. Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

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. AQIS logo The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is the Australian government agency responsible for enforcing Australian quarantine laws. ...

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. International trade is the exchange of goods and services across international boundaries or territories. ... The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is an international agricultural association. ... The Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) is a member-owned, nonprofit organization, [providing] research, education and certification services to thousands of organic growers, processors and handlers in North, Central and South America, Africa, Europe and Pacific Rim. ...

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. The China Green Food Development Center (CGFDC) is the first agency in the Peoples Republic of China to oversee organic food standards. ...

Certification issues

Organic certification is not without its critics. Some of the staunchest opponents of chemical-based farming and factory farming practices also oppose formal certification. They see it as a way to drive independent organic farmers out of business, and to undermine the quality of organic food.[citation needed] Other organizations such as the Organic Trade Association work within the organic community to foster awareness of legislative and other related issues, and enable the influence and participation of organic proponents. Beef cattle on a feedlot in the Texas Panhandle Factory farming is a term used to describe a set of controversial practices in large-scale, intensive agriculture. ... Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a membership-based business association that focuses on the organic business community in North America. ...

Obstacle to small independents

Originally, in the 1960s through the 1980s, the organic food industry comprised mainly small, independent farmers, selling locally. Organic "certification" was a matter of trust, based on a direct relationship between farmer and consumer. Critics view regulatory certification as a potential barrier to entry for small producers, by burdening them with increased costs, paperwork, and bureaucracy. Trust is the belief in the good character of one party, presumed to seek to fulfill policies, ethical codes, law and their previous promises. ... Barriers to entry is a term used in economics and especially the theory of competition to refer to obstacles placed in the path of a firm who wants to enter a given market. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Bureaucracy means political rule of offices. ...

The pressures of certification on the small farmer producing for the local food market are real and significant, particularly for mixed vegetable production. For instance, certified organic seed is expensive, and the selection is limited: currently, organic seed generally costs 30-50%[citation needed] that of uncertified seed, and only a handful of varieties of each crop are available, compared to dozens of varieties in uncertified seed. Seed producers face the same constraints in certification as do organic farmers, however, unlike farmers who choose to farm organically for an identified market, the majority of smaller scale demand is for uncertified seed. Also, the detailed record-keeping formats, from planting to harvest, are usually designed for larger, single-crop harvests; observed strictly, the paperwork can be onerous for farmers harvesting a wide variety of crop in small quantities on daily or weekly schedules. Balancing strict, rule-based certification with practical concerns such as these necessitates "case-by-case" exceptions for all but the biggest organic farmers to survive within the system. Regardless of the intentions, strict certification in practice favors large-scale production.[citation needed] It has been suggested that Local food network be merged into this article or section. ... A plate of vegetables Vegetable is a culinary term which generally refers to an edible part of a plant. ...

Manipulation of regulations

Critics of formal certification also fear an erosion of organic standards. Provided with a legal framework within which to operate, lobbyists can push for amendments and exceptions favorable to large-scale production, resulting in "legally organic" products produced in ways similar to current conventional food. Combined with the fact that organic products are now sold predominantly through high volume distribution channels such as supermarkets, the concern is that the market is evolving to favor the biggest producers, and this could result in the small organic farmer being squeezed out. It has been suggested that Interest representation: Academic overview be merged into this article or section. ... Exterior of a typical British supermarket (a Tesco Extra) Exterior of typical North American supermarket (a Safeway) This Flagship Randalls store in Houston, Texas is an example of an upscale supermarket. ...

Manipulation of certification regulations as a way to mislead or outright dupe the public is a very real concern. Some examples are creating exceptions (allowing non-organic inputs to be used without loss of certification status) and creative interpretation of standards to meet the letter, but not the intention, or particular rules. For example, a complaint filed with the USDA in February 2004 against a food ingredient producer and its certifying agent charged that tap water had been certified organic, and advertised for use in a variety of water-based body care and food products, in order to label them "organic" under US law. Steam-distilled plant extracts, consisting mainly of tap water introduced during the distilling process, were certified organic, and promoted as an organic base that could then be used in a claim of organic content. The case was dismissed by the USDA, as the products had been actually used only in personal care products, over which the department at the time extended no labelling control. The company subsequently adjusted its marketing by removing reference to use of the extracts in food products. Several months later, the USDA extended its organic labelling to personal care products; this complaint has not been refiled.[1]

As of June, 2007, the USDA was "considering a proposal to allow 38 nonorganic ingredients to be used in organic foods." According to the Los Angeles Times: "Because of the broad uses of these ingredients — as spices, colorings, and flavorings for example — almost any type of manufactured organic food could be affected, including organic milk, cereal, sausages, bread and beer."[2] This just IN !!!:paris hiltons new dog. ...

In 2007, the USDA certified Anheuser-Busch's Wild Hop Lager organic "even though" it "uses hops grown with chemical fertilizers and sprayed with pesticides."[3] Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. ...

Misrepresentation of the term organic

The word organic is central to the certification (and organic food marketing) process, and this is also questioned by some. Where organic laws exist, producers cannot use the term legally without certification. To bypass this legal requirement for certification, various alternative certification approaches, using currently undefined terms like "authentic" and "natural" instead of "organic", are emerging. In the US, motivated by the cost and legal requirements of certification (as of Oct. 2002), the private farmer-to-farmer association, Certified Naturally Grown, offers a "non-profit alternative eco-labelling program for small farms that grow using USDA Organic methods but are not a part of the USDA Certified Organic program."[4] Certified Naturally Grown is a non-profit alternate certification program created for small-scale organic farmers, and striving to strengthen the organic movement by preserving high organic standards and removing financial barriers that tend to exclude smaller farms that are selling locally and directly to their customers. ...

In the UK, the interests of smaller-scale growers who use 'natural' growing methods are represented by the Wholesome Food Association, which issues a symbol based largely on trust and peer-to-peer inspection.

A related concern holds that certification is replacing consumer education, and this goes against the essential, holistic nature of organic farming. By reducing complex issues and regulations to a simple, convenient certified organic label, consumers may more easily ignore the principles and practices behind organics, leaving the definition of organic farming and organic food open to manipulation.[citation needed] Holism (from holon, a Greek word meaning entity) is the idea that the properties of a system cannot be determined or explained by the sum of its components alone. ... Organic cultivation of mixed vegetables in Capay, California. ...

See also

A herbicide is a pesticide used to kill unwanted plants. ... An organically-grown apple. ... A cropduster spreading pesticide. ...


Citations and notes

  1. ^ "OCA Files Complaint with USDA's National Organic Program Against 'Organic Water' Scheme". Organic Consumers Association, 18-Feb-2004. Retrieved 4-Mar-2006.
    The USDA decision was summarized in a formal letter dated 9-Mar-2005: USDA Final Decision 030905. Retrieved 19-Apr-2006.
    In August 2005, the USDA did extend NOP coverage to non-food products: "Organic Consumers Association: USDA Yields in Battle Over Access of Personal Care to National Organic Program; Organic Non-Food Products Qualify, Says USDA". Retrieved 21-Apr-2006.
  2. ^ Scott J. Wilson. [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003741899_organic10.html "'Organic' food rule could have up to 38 loopholes". Los Angeles Times. June 10, 2007.
  3. ^ Scott J. Wilson. [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003741899_organic10.html "'Organic' food rule could have up to 38 loopholes". Los Angeles Times. June 10, 2007.
  4. ^ [Certified Naturally Grown]. Retrieved 4-Mar-2006.


  • Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA National Organic Program: Final Rule (7 CFR Part 205; Federal Register, Vol. 65, No. 246, 21 December 2000)
  • OCPP/Pro-Cert Canada Organic Agriculture & Food Standard (OC/PRO IS 350/150)
  • The Australian Organic Industry: A Profile, 2004, [1] (pdf)
  • European Commission: Organic Farming

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Organic Certification (148 words)
The National Organic Program and the Organic Foods Production Act are intended to assure consumers that the organic foods they purchase are produced, processed, and certified to be consistent with national organic standards.
U.S. producers are turning to certified organic farming systems as a potential way to lower input costs, decrease reliance on nonrenewable resources, capture high-value markets and premium prices, and boost farm income.
Organic farming systems rely on ecologically based practices such as cultural and biological pest management, exclusion of all synthetic chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones in crop and livestock production.
Organic Farm Certification & the National Organic Program (3363 words)
Organic farmers typically earn a premium for their production, and though it is not true for all products, many organic commodity crops have lower costs of production than do the same conventional crops.
A considerable amount of paperwork and documentation is required to ensure organic integrity; it is one of the necessary "burdens" of being a certified organic farmer or rancher.
If the organic farm plan application is judged to be complete, the certifier assigns an organic inspector (7), to inspect all relevant areas of the farm.
  More results at FactBites »



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