After years of working with the major stakeholders in organic agriculture, Standards Australia released the Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Products at the OFA organized launch at the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour on 9 October 2009.
The organic foods industry is growing rapidly in Australia, but recent international reports have highlighted the need for strict standards to ensure public confidence in the sector. Australia has had standards for the export market since the early 1990s, which were also used for the domestic market. OFA has spent over 5 years championing the Australian Standard and it has been one of our major activities. The new Australian Standard will help consumers identify credible organic products and will ensure that certified organic products have regulatory protection in Australia. For a more detailed background see the OFA position paper - The Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Products and Regulation.
Guest speakers at the launch included:
The Breakfast was sponsored by supporters and members of the organic industry: Novotel Hotel Group, Eco Farms and Organicus.
Trust Organic is sponsored by members of the organic industry: Temple Bruer Wines, Pure Organic Milk (Parmalat), Spiral Foods, NASAA, and CleanFood Organic.
The Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Products can assist Australia’s regulatory authorities, such as the ACCC, in using existing regulatory laws, such as the Trade Practices Act, to ensure the integrity of products that are sold as organic or biodynamic in Australia.
This will be a co-regulatory system, rather than a mandated or self regulatory system. Co-regulatory systems are where the sector and the government work together.
Australia does not have a mandated regulatory system for organic products. Despite repeated requests from the industry, successive Australian governments have refused to do this due a reluctance to have mandatory systems unless there is a proven failure of the existing regulatory systems.
In an effort to ensure that the existing regulatory system can effectively ensure the integrity of products labelled as organic, the OFA, on the advice of government Ministers, several government departments and regulatory authorities such as the ACCC and with significant industry consultation, put in an application to Standards Australia to develop a new standard.
The issue of a recognised legal definition (organic standard) was made clear by an Australian Federal Court decision concerning false representation of organic eggs, in August 2007, where the Hon. Justice Gray acknowledged the absence of any recognised legal definition of the term 'organic' and the difficulty this presented in creating an enforceable injunction in broader terms to prevent misrepresentation of eggs as 'organic'.
Justice Gray stated 'attempts to overcome the lack of clear criteria by which it can be said eggs are, or are not, organic have been unsuccessful'.
The ACCC considers that Justice Gray's ruling has highlighted the need for a uniform, accepted standard that deals with organic and biodynamic produce.
An important part of the process of developing the Australian Standard was the transparent input from relevant stakeholder groups including industry, consumers, retailers and regulators. The ACCC is of the view that the Australian Standard will be of assistance to courts when they next attempt to determine the meaning of organic.
Over time this standard will become the definition of 'organic' in case law and will be used to ensure the integrity of products labelled as organic in Australia.
Look out for the logos of the 7 AQIS- accredited Australian certifiers:
|FOR MORE INFORMATION ON:|
|Trust Organic – A Fortnight of Awareness feat. Organic Standards and Climate Change||The Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Products|
|Contact: Catriona Macmillan||Contact: Kate Evans|
|Organic Federation of Australia||Standards Australia|
|0402 404 361||0410 331 246|