Implementation of New Canadian Organic Regulations
Due to delays expected from the elections this fall, Canada, America’s largest organic trade partner, has pushed back the launch date of its new organic standards from December 14, 2008 to June 30, 2009. On this date, a series of regulations, organic standards and administrative rules referred to as the “Canadian Organic Regime” will go into effect.
The revisions to the 2006 Canada Organic Products Regulations (OPR) have been completed but will not be posted for public comment until the election is complete and a new government is in place. There are significant changes in scope, requirements and intent in the revision, with an overall improvement in clarity and transparency. Changes include:
A Limited Scope: The OPR now explicitly limit the scope to food and beverages for humans, feed for livestock, and the cultivation of plants for the above. Non-food and emerging sectors, which fall beyond the authority of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, will not be subject to the regulation for the time being. Therefore, aquaculture, personal care products, textiles and other such sectors will continue to be able to make verifiable market claims based on their third-party organic certification.
ISO References: The new OPR make explicit references to ISO 17011 (for accreditation) and to ISO 65 (for certification) as guidelines for the relevant bodies of the Canadian Organic Regime.
Import and Export Criteria: The new OPR clarify the extent to which products can come into the country and be marketed as organic, or exported to another country.
The options include 1)certification to the Canadian standard by an accredited certifying body; or 2) certification according to another standard deemed equivalent to the Canadian organic standard through a country-to-country agreement.
The import requirements in the 2006 OPR which called for a “letter of attestation” to accompany all shipments of organic goods no longer appear. Instead, companies must be able to prove at all times that their products meet all standards and regulatory requirements.
Labeling and the New Organic Logo: The requirement to label products as “imported” or “product of X” if not a Canadian product has been retained. A new labeling requirement will make bilingual (organic/ biologique) claims mandatory.
The new OPR also designate that only certified organic products (over 95 percent organic ingredients) can use the following phrases on packaging and in advertising: “organic,” “organically grown,” “organically raised,” “organically produced” as well as similar phrases and phonetic variants.
Reprinted from “News & Policy Updates for the Organic Industry,” a newsletter from Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates (www.organicspecialists.com). For more information contact Katherine DiMatteo at email@example.com.
OTA Awarded $750,000 to Analyze Trade Barriers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) has approved $750,000 in Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) funding over three years to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), in partnership with Sustainable Strategies, for projects that analyze technical trade barriers for U.S. organic products.
With this funding, Sustainable Strategies will conduct comparative GAP analyses and overviews of international markets for U.S. organic products. These comparative GAP analyses, developed by Sustainable Strategies with Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates, are detailed, side-by-side comparisons of the U.S. national organic standards and those of designated countries. Each analysis identifies the barriers to exporting U.S. organic products to specific international specialty markets. Robert Anderson, president of Sustainable Strategies, also serves as senior strategic analyst and project manager for international trade policy for the projects.
In their project proposal to FAS, OTA and Sustainable Strategies pointed out that U.S. organic producers are at an unfair trade disadvantage because various foreign nations, certifiers and their producers enjoy full access to the 50-state U.S. market, while U.S. organic producers have no reciprocal access to their markets. As a result, U.S. companies often must negotiate with sovereign nations on an inherently uneven playing field.
“As organic production and trade expand around the world, requests from countries for recognition and equivalence of standards grow, as does the need to compare standards. OTA’s previous work on side-by-side comparisons of organic standards and strategic analyses to support trade policy using TASC funds has provided vital information for USDA in negotiations with other countries and in determining when trade in organic products will be affected,” said Kelly Strzelecki, agricultural economist with the Processed Products and Technical Regulations Division of FAS.
Companies Join to Improve Sustainability of Palm Oil Industry
Thirty-one companies have signed a Rainforest Action Network (RAN) pledge to support a moratorium on the expansion of palm oil plantations into tropical forests. L’Occitane, Organic Valley, organic palm oil supplier Ciranda and several other businesses agreed to urge agribusiness giants Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge and Cargill to produce more sustainable palm oil.
Demand for palm oil, a key ingredient in many consumer goods, has risen significantly in recent years. As a result, palm oil plantations are expanding at a rate of 2.5 million acres per year into the tropical forests of Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Pristine forests are clear-cut and burned to accommodate the expansion, contributing heavily to global climate change, species extinction and the displacement of local communities. Deforestation is the primary reason that Indonesia, a top producer of palm oil, is now the world’s third-highest greenhouse gas emitter. For more information visit www.TheProblemWithPalmOil.org.
IFOAM Accepting Applications for New Executive Director
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is currently accepting applications for a new executive director. With 750 members in 105 countries, IFOAM members cover the whole organic chain: producers, certification bodies, trade development NGOs, consultancy and research. The executive director will lead the organization and a staff of 15 members from the head office located in Bonn, Germany. The job description and more details are available on www.ifoam.org/ed. Applications should be addressed to the IFOAM president, preferably by e-mail, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be accepted until January 1, 2009. General information about IFOAM is available at www.ifoam.org.