Canada debuts new organics seal

On the first of July, Canadian consumers should expect to see begin seeing a new seal for organic products on store shelves. The Biologique Canada Organic logo is reserved for products that contain at least 95 per cent organic content. It certifies that the product meets the standards meted out by Canada's Organic Products Regulations.

The seal, along with a new organic equivalency agreement signed last week between the United States and Canada, is expected to boost US-Canada trade in organic products and materials. Sales of organic products in Canada currently are estimated to be more than $2 million.

Gerhardt Latka, cofounder of Crofter's Organic, an organic jam producer in Parry Sound, Ontario, says the seal has been a long time in the making. "I was involved in the first talks about this in the summer of 1989," he said. As a result, he said, "The USDA seal is much more recognized. Canada has a lot of work to do to get recognition around the world. That being said, I am very relieved that Canada is finally following suit."

Penelope Marrett, president and CEO of the Canadian Health Food Association, said "This will create a more uniform approach to labeling, and, we hope, further the domestic production of organics. It also assures Canadian consumers that when the label says 'organic,' they are really getting an organic product."

Marrett said reaching agreement with Europe and Japan is vitally important to the growth of the Canadian organics industry. "Not only for our consumers, but for our farmers, who don't get the kind of help from government to convert to organics, as the farmers in, say, Italy. We've lobbied the government about making the programmes that are available to conventional farmers also available to organic farmers. I think they're beginning to listen to us," she said.

The certification process will not require Canadian farmers and manufacturers to obtain redundant certification for US markets. Talks with the European Union and Japan about standards of organic reciprocity are ongoing.

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