IFOAM Africa Office Coordinator Hervé Bougnimbeck exchanges experiences with Andean farmers during an IFOAM training.
Photo: IFOAM

24.08.2012

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Organic is not just about standards and certification. Organic is a holistic concept for sustainable development. To be properly understood, organic standards and certification should be viewed in the broader context of the objectives of the organic movement.

When most people think about organic products in the marketplace, they think in terms of certified products, and with good reason: Worldwide, there are over 70 countries with governmental organic regulations (plus over two dozen that are drafting regulations), plus dozens of privately-owned certification standards. More than 500 organic certification bodies (CBs) are active in the world, each serving one or more of these government regulations and/or private standards. With so many different programmes, you might think there is a lot of difference among them. Some are stricter than others, but overall the bulk of the content of these standards is quite similar. The minor differences, though, have made complications for those who want to trade their products across countries and markets. Is my standard “better” than yours? How do we know you really checked your producers against your standard? How can we trust that you are “really” organic?

Standards vs.

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