Who decides what is Organic?


Every time you buy organic, you are persuading more farmers to grow organic- Mother Earth News


If you are buying any organic product, make sure its certified organic. Worldwide, there are different agencies certifying a product to be made organically.

Like in  USA, it not legal to sell organic food without USDA certification on it. Organic Certification allows a farm or processing facility to sell, label, and represent their products as organic. The organic brand provides consumers with more choices in the marketplace. The USDA protects consumer options by protecting the organic seal.

Any organic operation violating the USDA organic regulations faces enforcement actions, which can include financial penalties or suspension/revocation of their organic certificate.

Look for USDA mark on any organic food product you buy.

An earlier certifier was CCOF in California. The California Certified Organic Farmers group was founded in 1973 by local organic growers. CCOF continues to advocate for organic farming, and is the leading official organic certifier for the USDA. Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply has been certified by CCOF as an organic seed handler.

Oregon Tilth is another regional group that acts as a certifier for the USDA NOP.

Demeter certifies organic growers for the USDA—with an interesting addition. Demeter also certifies for biodynamic farming.

OMRI certifies farming materials

What do organic farmers use in their fields? Organic seeds, from companies like Peaceful Valley, plus farming supplies that are certified by OMRI [Organic Materials Review Institute]. Created in the late 1980s by CCOF and Oregon Tilth as a materials and testing program, OMRI is now the primary organic materials review clearinghouse in the country.

There is no doubt that by buying organic cotton clothing you are not only saving your skin from toxic chemicals present in the conventional cotton production, textiles and clothing manufacture, but also contributing in a significant way to save planet earth from the impact of widely used toxic fertilizers, pesticides, harmful dyes and chemicals for finishing fabric for making clothes.

It is important though to looks for certification marks and symbols on the clothing tags and packaging to make sure organic cotton is certified and genuinely produced. Third party certification gives us unbiased and substantive information about the environmental performance of a fabric. Each certification has a different meaning. Look for individual certification text to identify what it means.

If a garment you buy says it is made with organic cotton it means the fiber used is organic but chances are that the chemicals used in processing may contain some of the highly toxic chemicals usually found in solvents, dyestuffs, and finishes. Further while processing the product, excess chemicals were released in the effluent and are now circulating in our groundwater. It can be still made in a sweat shop where there are no fair wages and safe working conditions. So in addition to organic cotton, look for other certification which certifies that product is made with low impact dyes and chemicals.

There are various well known organizations around the world involved in organic fiber and safer textiles certifications. Look out for below symbols (remember each symbol has unique meaning):

United States Department of Agriculture, National Organic Programs a regulatory program housed within the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. They are responsible for developing national standards for organically-produced agricultural products. These standards assure consumers that products with the USDA organic seal meet consistent, uniform standards. This means only fiber is organic. Look for below symbols for post fiber certifications. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) may be sold as ‘organic’ in the U.S. though they may not refer to NOP certification or carry the USDA organic seal.

GOTS symbol: Product grown and processed to organic standards. Products carrying the GOTS symbol are made from organic fibers, have met strict environmental and social criteria during processing and have been certified by an independent, third party along the whole supply chain.

Standards apply to fiber products, yarns, fabrics and clothes and cover the production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, exportation, importation and distribution of all natural fiber products, GOTS provides a continuous quality control and certification system from field to shelf.  There are also social responsibility components (i.e., fair wages, no forced or bonded labor, etc.)  All parameters are listed and accessible.

The GOTS parameters for materials include prohibitions or restrictions on Aromatic solvents, Chloro Phenols (TCP, PCP), Complexing agents (APEO), Formaldehyde and short chain aldehydes, Fungicides and biocides, Halogenated solvents, Heavy metals, Ammonia treatment. There are detailed social criteria:  no forced or bonded labor; workers are not required to lodge “deposits” or identity papers with employer; no child labor; workers are free to leave after reasonable notice; working conditions are safe and hygenic. Wastewater treatment includes measurement and monitoring sediment quantities, waste water temperature and waste water pH.  Find out more about GOTS…

Soil Association symbol: Product certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard by Soil Association Certification Ltd.

The Soil Association was a founder member of GOTS and is a quarter owner of Global Standard GmbH which manages the GOTS. Soil Association is the UK’s largest organic certification body. It’s also the only certification body linked to a committed charity, promoting organic food and farming. Find out more about the Soil Association…

OneCert: This organization provides organic certification worldwide with certification and inspection programs including the US National Organic Program (NOP), European Organic Regulations, Quebec Organic Standards (CAQ), Japan Agricultural Standards (JAS), IFOAM, and Bio Suisse.

Services include organic certification, organic inspection, export certificates, transaction certificates, on-line record keeping, answers to certification questions, and presentations of organic topics.

OE100 symbol: Cotton in the product grown to organic standards. Product has been tracked and traced along the supply chain by an independent, third party.

Contains 100% certified organic cotton fiber, but hasn’t necessarily been processed to organic standards.

 Peterson Control Union:  Control Union is a global one-stop-shop for a range of services in all aspects of the logistics chain of many commodities, including certification programs.  It certifies to the standards of The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and the Organic Exchange.

The Institute for Marketcology (IMO): IMO is one of the first and most renowned international agencies for inspection, certification and quality assurance of eco-friendly products. IMO offers certification for organic production and handling according to the EU Regulation.

  Control Union is a global one-stop-shop for a range of certification programs, including organic fibers.  It certifies to the standards of AB logo, Bio Suisse, Canada Organic Regime, EU organic, Japanese, Agricultural Standards, Naturland inspections, NPOP, Polish EU organic, USDS/NOP.

 Oeko Tex (www.oeko-tex.com):  This is important mark to look for safe textiles production. Founded to provide an objective and reliable product label for consumers and a uniform safety standard for the assessment of harmful substances in fabrics.  Its aim is to ensure products are free of harmful substances. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 excludes harmful substances or limits their use. The following parameters form part of the Oeko-Tex list of criteria and is specifically banned AZO dyes, carcinogenic and allergy-inducing dyes, formaldehyde, pesticides, chlorinated phenols, chloro-organic benzenes and toluenes, extractable heavy metals, phthalates in baby articles, Organotin compounds (TBT and DBT), emissions of volatile components.

Resources:

http://www.ota.com/sites/default/files/indexed_files/What%20are%20Organic%20Fiber%20Products.pdf
https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com
https://www.onecert.com/
http://www.global-standard.org/

https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certificate

Main image: https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/news/organic-food-and-farming/

 

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