Organic production has been practiced all over the world since the late 1940s. From that time, the industry has grown from experimental garden plots to large farms with surplus products sold under a special organic label. Food manufacturers have developed organic processed products and many retail marketing chains specialize in the sale of "organic" products. This growth stimulated a need for verification that products are indeed produced according to certain standards. Thus, the organic certification industry also evolved.
Organic certification addresses a growing worldwide demand for organic food. It is intended to assure quality and prevent fraud, and to promote commerce. While such certification was not necessary in the early days of the organic movement, when small farmers would sell their produce directly at farmers' markets, as organics have grown in popularity, more and more consumers are purchasing organic food through traditional channels, such as supermarkets. As such, consumers must rely on third-party regulatory certification.
For organic producers, certification identifies suppliers of products approved for use in certified operations. For consumers, "certified organic" serves as a product assurance, similar to "low fat", "100% whole wheat", or "no artificial preservatives". Certification is essentially aimed at regulating and facilitating the sale of organic products to consumers. Individual certification bodies have their own service marks, which can act as branding to consumers—a certifier may promote the high consumer recognition value of its logo as a marketing advantage to producers.
In India, the India National Programme for Organic Production (INDIA NPOP) is a program housed within the Department of Commerce (Ministry of Commerce and Industries), the agency that sets marketing standards. The India NPOP mission is to develop and implement national standards that govern the marketing of agricultural products as organically produced, to facilitate commerce in fresh and processed food that is organically produced, and to assure consumers that such products meet consistent standards.
The INDIA NPOP rule prohibits the use of genetic engineering (included in the list of excluded methods), ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge. The rule includes the following:
√ Production and handling requirements, which address organic crop production, wild crop harvesting, organic livestock management, and processing and handling of organic agricultural products
√ The National List of Allowed Synthetic and Prohibited Non-Synthetic Substances
√ Labeling requirements for organic products
√ Compliance, testing, fee, and state program approval requirements
√ Certification and recordkeeping requirements
√ Accreditation requirements for receiving and maintaining accreditation, as well as requirements for foreign accreditation.
√ Other administrative functions of the NPOP, which include evaluation of foreign organic certification programs.
The programme is developed and implemented by the Government of India through its Ministry of Commerce and Industry as the apex body. The Ministry constitutes a National Steering Committee for National Programme for Organic Production, whose members are drawn from Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Coffee Board, Spices Board and Tea Board and other government and private organisations associated with the organic movement. To advise the National Steering Committee on relevant issues pertaining to National Standards and Accreditation, sub-committees are appointed. The National Steering Committee for National Programme for Organic Production formulates a National Accreditation Policy and Programme and draw up National Standards for Organic Products, which include standards for organic production and processes as well as the regulations for use of the National Organic Certification Mark.
In other countries, there are standards for organic production as per the rules and regulations of the country. Some of the major and important organic standards of production are listed below. You can click the links to read the full text of these standards.
- Council Regulation (EEC) 2092/91 (European Union)
- BIO SUISSE import information for producers outside of Switzerland (Switzerland)
United States Standards
- National Organic Program (NOP) (United States)