In recent weeks we at CCOF have observed a variety of activities and discussions about organic certification and organic standards. In the week following the April National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting, the Accredited Certifiers Association issued a noteworthy letter supporting the USDA and NOP. See CCOF’s thoughts on the sunset process change when they were announced last fall.
At CCOF we believe that everyone is welcome to their opinions. We know that organic standards and certification systems are stronger and stricter than they’ve ever been. Our focus is making meaningful contributions to organic standards and organic production; not focusing on negativity. More people than ever before are enjoying organic products which are not produced with GMOs, and contribute to significant reductions in pollution, pesticides and to a better world and food system generally. We have faith in the organic program and support the hardworking men and women that contribute at the NOP and USDA level. While not every change the NOP makes is easy for CCOF, we have tremendous respect for their efforts and dedication.
Regarding CCOF’s work on standards at the NOSB level, we appeared twice before the board at the most recent meeting in San Antonio. During our public comments delivered by CCOF Certification Services President Jake Lewin and Board Member Karen Archipley we:
- Pressured the NOP for meaningful animal welfare standards (see the letter we sent the USDA the same week addressing the need for standards in this area)
- Asked NOSB to modify their retail proposal to be stricter; and
- Encouraged meaningful action to ensure the absence of GMOs in organic through the seed purity proposal. This included informing the NOSB and NOP that CCOF Certification Services is increasing GMO testing this year and that we look forward to bringing back feedback on those efforts in order to contribute to improving GMO exclusion from organic products.
Over the years, CCOF has consistently pushed the NOP and NOSB to strengthen the organic program including residue testing, increased unannounced inspections, inspector qualification requirements, and more. In terms of organic standards, CCOF is dedicated to our policy principles regarding animal welfare, carbon sequestration, ecosystem protection, genetically modified organisms, processing standards, and social justice. Visit our Mission and Principles page to learn more.
We are pleased to report that within our certification program, we are currently working on improving soil conservation monitoring, gathering information about natural resource management at certified organic processing locations (a largely ignored area) and ensuring effective implementation in all manner of standards areas. At the same time we are actively reducing paperwork and working to focus our efforts on substantive issues instead of paper while creating efficiencies for certified operations.
We are focused on the benefits of organic production and are pleased to see that millions of people are bringing organic foods home every day. This reduces pesticide use and contributes to environmental benefits and health in myriad important ways.
Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.
Organic seems to be everywhere from the local farmers' market and farm stand to the produce sections and shelves of major retailers. 82 percent of Americans report that they purchase organic products. But even so, organic remains less than 5 percent of all agricultural sales. Organic food is more widely accepted by the public and agricultural community than it was in 2002, so the barriers to Going Organic have changed. A greater challenge to the organic movement has become producers’ access to key resources that support their economic success and viability. Supporting the needs of growers and processors while addressing barriers to Going Organic are our primary focuses today outside of certification.
We invite people and organizations that support these efforts and goals to join us by becoming certified organic by CCOF or supporting the CCOF Foundation. Through the CCOF Foundation, individuals and organizations can take a stand with CCOF as we work to make a difference through education, hardship assistance to organic operations, and more.