First IFOAM Organic Certification Body Forum Sets Stage for Future Development of Organic Agriculture
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
IFOAM announces the formation of an International Forum of Certification Bodies, the first meeting of which took place on February 15th in Nuremberg, Germany, in conjunction with BioFach, the world's largest organic trade fair. Seventy-four participants from fifty-three certification bodies and thirty-five countries actively participated in this seminal attempt to enhance cooperation among organic certification bodies and ensure integrity and continuous improvement of a system that serves as the underpinning for the worldwide organic certification of over 31 million hectares with a market value of nearly 30 billion US dollars.
The objectives of the Certification Body Forum (CB Forum) are to increase cooperation between certification bodies worldwide, to improve the capacity and functioning of the certification system and to advance the harmonization of trade in organic products.
Michel Reynaud, Director for International Development at Ecocert International, stated "It was the first time that certification bodies were able to come together to discuss the really important issues for certification and further develop our common agenda. It was a very open meeting, and I expect that most certifiers around the world will be interested in following and participating in this initiative."
Robert Simmons, Senior Executive Partner and Secretary of the board for International Certification Services, Inc., noted "the advent of the CB Forum is a significant step in the evolution of the organic movement. As certfiers, we all face the same problems and challenges. Common approaches to these problems and challenges is critical to maintaining the integrity of organic and the CB Forum has the potential to facilitate these common approaches."
The Forum identified specific topics where collaborative efforts by certification bodies are particularly important and require attention. These include how certification bodies deal with conversion requirements, results of residue analysis, requirements for organic seed, and the prohibition on inputs of genetically modified organisms in organic production and processing. These and other topics identified by the CB Forum will be taken up at IFOAM's Certification Conference in November, and thereafter the CB Forum will continue to work on them.
Diane Bowen (picture), Manager of the IFOAM Organic Guarantee System, emphasized that "organic certification systems are at a threshold of development where broad and collaborative efforts at harmonization must be made in order to facilitate the continuous growth and integrity of the organic sector. The establishment of the Certification Body Forum is a positive step towards the achievement of IFOAM's mission of leading, uniting and assisting the organic movement in its full diversity - in this case, the full diversity of the certification bodies"
During its meeting, the CB Forum also discussed the Proposal by the European Commission for a new regulation on organic farming to replace the current regulation (EEC2092/91). The Forum expressed concern over the process and timeline for approval of a new regulation. Therefore, it issued the following declaration:
The first meeting of the CB Forum, held 15 Feb in Nuremberg, Germany, reviewed the declaration of the IFOAM EU Group regarding the Commission's proposed regulation to replace 2092/91. The CB Forum agrees with and supports the EU Group statement that there is an extremely tight timescale and there is insufficient participation of the stakeholders. We call urgently on the Council and the Commission to rectify this.
The Certification Body Forum will meet again in conjunction with the First IFOAM International Conference on Organic Certification, which is to take place from November 15-17 2006. The Forum willl meet again at Biofach in 2007.
For more information, contact Diane Bowen, Organic Guarantee System Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org