As of December 14, 2008 all products shipped in and out of Canada, or across provincial boundaries; must meet mandatory standards. These govern the production methods and use of certain substances such as fertilizers, pesticides, and hormones amongst others. This includes not just the growing but also the processing of food labeled as organic and they must be overseen by a certifying body as set up by law. This means that a farmer can no longer certify his or her own food products.
Certified products can now carry the "Biologique Canada Organic" label. This will make it easier for consumers to feel safe in the knowledge that the food they consume is indeed organically farmed. This new regulation also governs imports to Canada as well as exports and ensures the validity of our products. The EU, Japan, and the US are all big buyers of Canadian organic products.
The criteria for organic production are set out in the Organic Production System General Principals and Management Standards and Organic Production Systems Permitted Substances Lists which were developed by the Canadian General Standards Board in consultation with the Committee on Organic Agriculture. I know that was a mouthful but you can see these lists at the Canadian Organic Growers site. They are a federally incorporated, registered, charity that has been championing organic farming for over 30 years.
In addition to following the standards set out in the guidelines when growing or processing their food; they must keep a record of all farming and manufacturing practices as well as a list of all materials used in the growing of their food. These records will be inspected at least once per year by an accredited certification body. Just who are these accredited bodies? They are companies or individuals that have undergone an evaluation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. They are tested on their knowledge of the principals and practices of organic farming as set out by the government regulations. This will cost the farmer a bit more time and money but it is worth it to ensure that the food we buy that is marked organic is indeed certified organic by a third party that we know is educated and in whom we can trust. While we could always ask the farmer himself there is nothing to ensure that a farmer or processor actually knows everything about a product or that the answer given would be easily understood by us. Take a look at the article you are reading as proof of that.
The bottom line is that when we buy certified organic food we want to be sure that the food we eat is not only healthy, sustainable, and safe; but that we can trust that what we are paying for is what it claims to be.
There will be additional regulations come into law in July of 2009 and I will give you more information at that time.
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