Over the last few years, there has been much discussion, robust debate, and dialogue between the various bodies that represent organic and biodynamic growers, producers, processors and distributors, and indeed the members of those bodies, about the need for one all encompassing standard that covers Organic and Biodynamic Products.
At the present time, there are seven certifying bodies in Australia, all with their own standards, certifying criteria, and logos, which makes it extremely confusing for every day consumers to know exactly what is organic. The other problem is that anyone can use the term organic on a product regardless of the processes involved in it's production, and whether or not the processes have been performed by any certified practitioners. This is hardly a good state of affairs.
As you can imagine, with such a diverse range of entities and the individual agendas of each, reaching any sort of agreement between these bodies was going to take some time and a large amount of diplomacy. But it is pleasing to say that the end is in sight.
The draft Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Products has been released and is available for public comment.
Released on July 21st by Standards Australia, members of the public and interested parties are encouraged to review the documents and provide feedback to Standards Australia by September 22nd 2008.
The Australian Standard has been an initiative of the Organic Federation of Australia, the peak body for the Australian Organic sector, who have been actively involved in the documents development.
The draft Australian Standard has been developed by a broadly based committee of key stakeholders, and it stipulates requirements for production, preparation, transportation, marketing and labelling of organic and biodynamic products. Placing particular emphasis on farming and management practices that promote sustainability, the draft Standard covers production from plants, animals and fungi, as well as processed products such as processed food, cosmetics and skincare products that are labelled 'organic'.
In announcing the release of the draft Organic Standard, the Organic Federation of Australia went on to say that "The Standard is a very significant development because it will become the basis for the first Australian domestic regulations for organic food and products."
The key aims that the Standard is designed to address are:
- Provide a consistent framework for the organic industry from the paddock to point of sale
- Set out minimum requirements for growing products that can be labelled as ‘organic’, ‘biodynamic’ or ‘in-conversion’
- Provide clear definitions about what is organic and what is not
- Protect consumers against unsubstantiated claims and misleading labelling
- Protect growers against misinterpretation and misleading use of organic agricultural practices and the term ‘organic’
- Provide a guide for farmers considering conversion to organic farming.
In conjunction with this document, The Committee has also developed supporting reference material outlining the certification procedures for growers of organic and biodynamic products.
Both documents are available as free downloads through Standards Australia publishing arm SAI Global
Alternatively, the documents can be found by visiting the Standards Australia website, and clicking on the Drafts for Public Comment in the left hand menu.
I invite you to view these documents and comment accordingly below, or indeed submit your views to Standards Australia before September 22nd 2008, as this is an important step in the long term health of the Australian Organics industry, ensuring organic and biodynamic products are correctly certified and labelled.
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