Alliance for Organic Integrity – Strengthening organic assurance globally
FAQs about Organic Integrity
What is Organic Integrity?
Organic Integrity refers to the manner in which an organic product has been produced and traded. It means that the control system is comprehensive, reliable and trustworthy thereby ensuring that a genuinely organic product is offered to the final consumer.
Is Organic Integrity at risk?
The vast majority of organic businesses are committed to ensuring the consumer receives a truly organic product – they’re doing it, often in a challenging environment, because they believe it’s the right way to produce. Unfortunately, as with any product where there is a price difference between higher and lower quality products there is always a temptation for the unscrupulous to try to profit by breaching that integrity. Our work tries to prevent and address such breaches.
Is fraud a problem in Organic?
Fraud has been discovered within the organic supply chain, and it is important for the organic community to uncover such cases where they exist. But it is not so prevalent that it should be considered an endemic problem, nor should it deter organic consumers. As with any industry, constant vigilance is required. The fact that caution is taken does not mean that one can’t trust the system; it instead demonstrates due diligence by genuine organic businesses.
Why is The Alliance for Organic Integrity needed?
Working with partners across the globe, we aim to strengthen organic integrity. Our mission is to be the global multistakeholder Alliance that delivers the education, tools and resources needed to lift quality in organic control; maintaining the integrity of organic certification and consumer confidence in the organic label. Strengthening organic integrity not only helps to minimize fraudulently labelled organic products reaching the consumer. It also helps prevent genuine organic businesses being caught up in compromised supply chains themselves, and removes unfair competitive advantage that those not following the rules may have over those operating with organic integrity.
What does the Alliance for Organic Integrity do?
- Collaborate with stakeholders from industry, control bodies, government agencies and non-profits to share knowledge, innovations, resources and solutions for organic integrity;
- Lift quality in organic inspection, certification and accreditation through education & training in best practice;
- Deliver the forensic tools needed to help prevent fraudulent products entering organic supply chains;
- Promote the harmonization of organic requirements to enable more efficient and consistent application.
How do Partners of The Alliance contribute?
We build partnerships because we believe we achieve more when we collaborate. We share knowledge, innovations, resources and solutions with stakeholders from industry, control bodies, government agencies and non-profits.
Our partners actively support, cooperate with, participate in, lead and/or contribute funds & resource towards our activities. Find out more here.
Is there a global body overseeing organic control?
Organic controls are mainly effective under national, or in the case of European countries, EU legislation. In countries where the majority of organic consumers live there is either mutual recognition of this national/international legislation or recognition that the product imported into those jurisdictions is produced to equivalent standards under a reasonable control system. The Control Bodies that carry out the certification of organic operators are accredited either by their own national Accreditation Body or by an external Accreditation Body. For such Accreditation Bodies to be recognized they should be members of the International Accreditation Forum which undertakes peer review audits of their activities.
Section 6 of the United Nations Codex Alimentarius Commission’s Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods provides the basic international requirements for organic inspection and certification systems.
What is the organic control community?
- Inspectors and certification bodies of organic farms and businesses
- Accreditation bodies (which oversee the certification bodies) and may be independent or part of a national government body
- Standard owners that create and maintain specific organic standards (such as the Global Organic Textile Standards or the Soil Association)
- National and international authorities such as USDA in the USA, competent authorities in EU members states and the EU DG Agri in Brussels exercise oversight of implementation of their rules and regulations.
- Not-for-profits with an interest in organic control, for example The Alliance for Organic Integrity or IFOAM-Organics International
- Service providers or organic businesses working on initiatives in the organic control sector
Do some producing countries or regions offer more risk?
There has been no comprehensive research to determine if some regions or countries offer more risk to organic integrity than others. Every organic operator is an individual organization and good operators operate in areas with poor organic control just as bad operators exist in those with good organic control. It is for this reason that assessing the risk of being sold fraudulent products in supply chains should be undertaken by all organic businesses, which demonstrates their commitment to organic integrity.
Are there laws to protect organic integrity?
The label “organic” is protected in law by most national governments and/or international bodies such as the EU. It is underpinned by nationally and/or internationally recognized standards, and those using the term fraudulently can and have been prosecuted.
Is there publication reporting on organic integrity issues?
In early 2023, we re-launched the much respected “The Organic Standard” online journal to provide the organic community with much needed news, analysis, insight and guidance on global organic regulatory, standards and control issues. Visit our website to find out more here.