|Organic Standards and Certification|
Third Party Certification
Organic standards have long been used to create an agreement within organic agriculture about what an "organic" claim on a product means, and to some extent, to inform consumers. Regional groups of organic farmers and their supporters began developing organic standards as early as in the 1940's. Currently there are hundreds of private organic standards worldwide; and in addition, organic standards have been codified in the technical regulations of more than 60 governments.
Organic certification was first instituted in the 1970's by the same regional organic farming groups that first developed organic standards. In the early years, the farmers inspected one another on a voluntary basis, according to quite a general set of standards. Today third-party certification is a much more complex and formal process. Although certification started as a voluntary activity, the market began to demand it for sales transactions, and now it is required by the regulations of many governments for any kind of an "organic" claim on a product label.
The Organic Guarantee System and the IFOAM Basic Standards and Accreditation Criteria
IFOAM's Organic Guarantee System (OGS) is designed to a) facilitate the development of organic standards and third-party certification worldwide, and to b) provide an international guarantee of these standards and organic certification. The IFOAM Basic Standards and the Accreditation Criteria are two of the main components of the OGS. Visit the Organic Guarantee System Section on this website for further information.
Note: the IFOAM Organic Guarantee System is currently under revision. See the OGS section for more information.
Other Guarantee Systems
When organic farmers and traders are operating in an anonymous market, third party certification has been developed to show and guarantee that a product has been produced organically. Third party certification is the formal and documented procedure by which a third party assures that the organic standards are followed. Certification leads to consumers' trust in the organic production system and the products. Certification gives organic farming a distinct identity and credibility and makes market access easier.
However, besides third party certification and formal standards, there are other methods of organic quality assurance for certain situations and markets. These can be in the form of self-declaration, or participatory guarantee systems, which are seen by IFOAM as suitable for local markets that are not so anonymous as the standard "trade".
Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS)
Participatory Guarantee Systems are locally focused quality assurance systems. They certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange.
Credibility is ensured through the participation of all stakeholders involved in production and consumption of organic products. In the majority of cases Participatory Guarantee Systems do not only guarantee the credibility of organic produce, but are closely linked to local and alternative marketing approaches.
To learn more about PGS, click here.
|IFOAM - International Federation of Organic Agriculture | email@example.com|