Canada proposes organic regulations

Canada has moved a step closer to enacting national organic regulations after formally pre-publishing a set of standards it hopes will encourage organic production and boost trade activity.

The regulations, which the Canadian government hopes to have enacted by the end of the year, would increase the industry's export market access, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said.

The regulations propose establishing a Canada Organic logo on foods that meet organic guidelines. The regulations are expected to be in line with US and European standards and will allow Canada to make the European Union's intended list of approved organic exporters, which will be also be formalised by year's end.

Although Canada has no official organic guidelines except in the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec, voluntary parameters have been in place since 1999.

"A national regulation will pave the way for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to secure equivalency agreements with other countries, thus facilitating markets for Canadian-produced organic products," the Massachusetts, US-based Organic Trade Association said in a statement issued from its Ontario office.

"The Canadian organic community has been seeking mandatory national organic standards that will ease the way for trade of organic products both within Canada and with other countries," said Caren Wilcox, OTA's executive director.

A 75-day pre-publication comment period will be now be observed in which time international and domestic stakeholders are invited to comment on the proposed regulation. The Canadian government will then review the comments and make any necessary revisions prior to final publication and enactment. When finalised, the CFIA will establish a Canada Organic Office.

The Canadian organic sector has grown annually at 15 per cent to 20 per cent over the past decade. The nation had an estimated 3,670 certified organic farms in 2004.

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