Organic Insights - Spring 2022

2 / Organic Insights / Spring 2022

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Most organic consumers have assumed that it is not possible that non-compliant produce can carry a certification mark, because the CBs claim to be trustworthy, and to have government accreditation. However, Australian government accreditation applies only to exported produce. Nowhere do the CBs explain that accreditation does not apply to every operator or product. We therefore have a well-known organic logo associated with produce that is grown in containers, which is not permitted in any Australian organic standards, and it is widely available in a major supermarket and elsewhere in the organic distribution chain. This again highlights the importance of implementing domestic regulation, revisiting governance processes by which accreditation is applied to certification bodies, and establishing an independent process of review and grievances. Even if not directly involved, OISCC, the organisation responsible for maintenance of the National Standard, became complicit in continued availability of these non- compliant products, by failing to clarify its responsibilities with the industry, to respond to communication and complaints via their website, or to take any corrective action. Ambiguous statements in OISCC literature allowed the organic industry to assume that they were responsible for proper operation of certification in Australia, but this information turned out to be disingenuous. Inaction eventually led to an untenable situation and the decision by OISCC to turn management of the National Standard over to the Department of Agriculture. This lack of certainty in domestic regulation is what leads researchers such as Christina Do to call organic food labelling in Australia “a murky environment”. 2023 must be the year when we clarify the issue of domestic regulation and regain control of certified products in retail stores. NASAA will continue to advocate for better governance of standards and certification, adequate supervision of the market, and when necessary, regulatory action to remove non-compliant products. Please help us by maintaining your NCO certification and NASAA membership. Do, Christina, 2020 Organic Food Labelling in Australia: AMurky Environment in Need of Reform, in Regulatory Issues in Organic Food Safety in the Asia Pacific, Bee Chen GOH and Rohan Price (Editors) Springer

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in box delivery schemes. NASAA will argue to retain some self-description as organic for very small growers and acceptance of Participatory Guarantee Systems (according to accepted protocols) as a valid form of non-third-party certification, in accordance with the concept IFOAM Organic 3.0 (PGS and Organic 3.0 are described in my contributions to recent Organic Insights magazines available at the NASAA Organic website). An additional concern is that after three decades where the major retail stores mainly required organic products to be certified, I have recently noted an increase in the number of uncertified products available in supermarkets. While we are happy to make a case for availability of locally produced organic products, NASAA believes that certification is needed when selling through third parties such as the major organic wholesalers and supermarkets. Of greater concern is the presence of non- compliant products in the domestic market that carry the logo of a major certification As consumers become better informed on the organic standards and the application of certification in the domestic space, they are also becoming more active in questioning the integrity of application of certification of products making it into major supermarkets. body (CB), with some products under question by consumers at this time.

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