Two new tools aimed at unifying organic standards and easing restrictions on organic trade between international markets have been launched, following six years of collaborative work by the International Task Force on Harmonisation and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture (IFT).
The news was announced at IFT's eighth meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, this week, with members present including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
The new tools being introduced, called Equitool and International Requirements for Organic Certification Bodies (IROCB), are specifically designed to lower costs for organic producers and exporters and prevent organisational problems.
Equitool is designed to allow people to assess whether organic production and processing standards are equivalent (although not identical) in one area of the world when compared with another. This includes assessment criteria and is based on IFOAM's basic standards and Codex Alimentarius Commission's guidelines on production, processing, labelling and marketing.
IROCB enables recognition of global organic certification bodies, including performance requirements for certification.
Thomas Cierpka, senior manager of human resources and administration at IFOAM, told FoodNavigator.com that the new tools were not individual standards in their own right, but a means for assessing and comparing existing standards.
"Rather than losing time, money and markets in the jungle of standards and regulations, the ITF has laid the basis for harmonious cooperation for those interested in facilitating the growth of the organic sector, while maintaining the integrity of the system," he said.