Organic Rules and Certification

All differences in one table by country standards

  • Organic regulations/standards by region
    • USA
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Title Description Difference Justification and Comments
Animal fodder, general requirements - US NOP 2002
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§ 205.237 Livestock feed. (a) The producer of an organic livestock operation must provide livestock with a total feed ration composed of agricultural products, including pasture and forage that are organically produced and if applicable organically handled: In exception those nonsynthetic substances and synthetic substances allowed under § 205.603 may be used as feed additives and supplements.
US require 100 % organic feed (except for approved feed additives and approved synthetic inert ingredients and milk replacer in case of an emergency). EU Regulation 2092/91 allows feed from conventional sources 5 % for herbivores and up to 15 % for other species until 2007 with a decreasing share until 2011. From 2012 onwards EU also require 100 % organic feed. EU specifies feed formula per species, US does not. EU requires that for herbivores at least 50 % of the feed must come from the farm unit itself or a cooperating farm, whereas US does not. No justification was available.
Beekeeping, production and handling products - US NOP 2002 Apiculture products may be certified to the existing NOP regulations which will be amended in future rulemaking to cover any unique production and handling requirements. NOP does not have specific provisions on apiculture. The EU Regulation 2092/91 has specific provisions. The NOP intends to provide standards for categories where the Act provides the authority to promulgate standards. These standards will be build upon the existing final rule and will address only the unique requirements necessary to certify these specialized operations.
Certification, application - US NOP 2002
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§ 205.401- § 205.402 Application for certification. 1. The application must include the following information: - An organic production or handling system plan - The applicant's data such as name and address - Details on previous applications/certifications 2. Upon acceptance of an application for certification, a certifying agent must: - Review the application to ensure completeness and determine whether the applicant complies with the applicable requirements of subpart C; - Verify that any non-compliances of previous applications are solved - Schedule an on-site inspection
US require notification of previous applications and the outcome whereas the EU Regulation 2092/91 does not. Procedures of applications are slightly different since for US a production or handling plan must be submitted with the application and reviewed before inspection, whereas in the EU the full description of the unit must be drawn up when the inspection arrangements are first implemented. EU is more specific in declarations which have to be signed by operators.. No justification was available.
Certification, general requirements - US NOP 2002
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§ 205.400 General requirements for certification. A person seeking to receive or maintain organic certification must: (a) Comply with the Act and applicable organic production and handling regulations of this part (b) Establish an organic production or handling system plan (c) Permit on-site inspections (d) Maintain all records applicable to the organic operation for not less than 5 years (e) Submit the applicable fees (f) Immediately notify the certifying agent concerning any: (1) Application, including drift, of a prohibited substance (2) Change in a certified operation that may affect its compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part
They are no differences in the basic principles, however the US is more specific in the details compared to the EU Regulation 2092/91. EU does not define drift as a non-compliance with the Regulation and does not require notification of drift. However drift is subject to different interpretations in the EU. If the outcome of the investigation reveals that the presence of the detected prohibited substance is the result of an intentional application, the certified operation will be subject to suspension or revocation of its organic certification and/or a civil penalty. In cases of unintended drift the specific crop may not be sold as organic, but the organic status of future crop years are not affected since organic certification is a production claim, not a content claim.
Certification, general requirements - US NOP 2002
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§ 205.404 ? 205.406 Certification If the certifying agent determines that the operation is in compliance with the rules, he shall issue a certificate. In case of non-compliances the operator shall receive a description of each non-compliance and the facts upon which the notification of non-compliance is based. In a notice of denial, suspension or revocation of certification, the rights to reapply, request mediation or filing an appeal must be stated. To continue certification an updated organic production or handling system plan must be submitted and an annual inspection conducted.
US defines details of certificate, in EU Regulation 2092/91 this issue is covered by reference to EN 45011. In US certification continues in effect until surrendered by the organic operator or suspended or revoked by the certifying agent or authority. This is not defined in EU. US describe procedural details for granting, denial and continuation of certification. EU is less detailed. EU requires in case of manifest infringement to prohibit marketing of organic products for a period to be agreed with the competent authority. US allows for immediate re-application after denial of certification but requires 5 years before re-application following revocation. US requires annual update of production or handling plan, this is not specified by EU. No justification was available.
Contamination, preventing, buffer zones - US NOP 2002 § 205.202 Land requirements. Any field or farm parcel from which harvested crops are intended to be sold, labelled, or represented as "organic," must: (c) Have distinct, defined boundaries and buffer zones such as runoff diversions to prevent the unintended application of a prohibited substance to the crop or contact with a prohibited substance applied to adjoining land that is not under organic management. The US require buffer zones whereas the EU does not. A buffer zone must be sufficient in size or other features (e.g., windbreaks or a diversion ditch) to prevent the possibility of unintended contact by prohibited substances applied to adjacent land areas with an area that is part of a certified operation. As long as an organic operation has not used excluded methods and takes reasonable steps to avoid contact with the products of excluded methods as detailed in their approved organic system plan, the unintentional presence of the products of excluded methods should not affect the status of an organic product or operation.
Conversion, general requirements - US NOP 2002 § 205.202 Land requirements. Any field or farm parcel from which harvested crops are intended to be sold, labelled, or represented as "organic," must: (a) Have been managed in accordance with the provisions of §§ 205.203 through 205.206 (b) Have had no prohibited substances, as listed in § 205.105, applied to it for a period of 3 years immediately preceding harvest of the crop (c) Have distinct, defined boundaries and buffer zones such as runoff diversions to prevent the unintended application of a prohibited substance to the crop or contact with a prohibited substance applied to adjoining land that is not under organic management. US requires 3 years with no prohibited materials prior to harvest, but does not require full implementation of organic practices during the entire conversion period. EU Regulation 2092/91 requires 2 years of organic management prior to sowing or 3 years before the first harvest in case of perennials. The EU requires inspection during the conversion period, whereas the US does not. The EU defines the beginning of the conversion period, for the US this is not relevant subsequently; there is no retroactive approval for the conversion period in the US. The Act does not require that land be under active organic management during the period prior certification and USDA do not believe such a requirement in these regulations is necessary. Such a requirement, for example, would necessitate some process for verifying that an operation is under active organic management, which would, in effect, require a certification-type decision a year before certification is granted and the operation can begin to label products as certified organic.
Definitions - US National Organic Programme 2002
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NOP contains a detailled list of defined terms.
The NOP list of definitions is more detailed compared to EU Regulation 2092/91. NOP does not cover a definition of genetically modified organisms (GMO), however genetic engineering is covered under the definition for "excluded methods". The EU defines GMO's and GMO derivatives. The NOP definition of "excluded methods" does not address GMO derivatives. NOP re definitions of GMO's: "The emphasis and basis of these standards is on process, not product. We have specifically structured the provisions relating to excluded methods to refer to the use of methods. Including the products of excluded methods in the definition would not be consistent. With this approach to organic standards as a process-based system. For the same reason, we have retained the term, 'excluded methods', to reinforce that process-based approach. Further justifications for the definitions are described in the attached extract of the NOP "Entire Standards".
Fertilization, general requirements - US NOP 2002
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The producer must manage crop nutrients and soil fertility through rotations, cover crops, and the application of plant and animal materials. The producer must manage plant and animal materials to maintain or improve soil organic matter content avoiding contamination. Approved fertilizers: (1) Raw animal manure (subject to further restrictions) (2) Composted plant and animal materials (3) Uncomposted plant materials (4) A crop nutrient or soil amendment included on the national list of synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production (6) A mined substance of low solubility (7) A mined substance of high solubility, provided that the substance is used in compliance with the conditions established on the national list of nonsynthetic materials prohibited for crop production. (Article § 205.203 and § 205.205)
There are only differences regarding manure and compost (see these sections) compared with EU Regulation 2092/91. A producer of an organic crop must manage soil fertility, including tillage and cultivation practices, in a manner that maintains or improves the physical, chemical, and biological condition of the soil and minimises soil erosion.
Free range conditions, area - US NOP 2002
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There are no specific provisions for minimum livestock surface area, but natural behaviour must be accommodated.
EU Regulation 2092/91 specifies the minimum surface areas indoors and outdoors and other characteristics of housing in the different species and types of production. Both US and EU require outdoor access for any animals. US require in addition pasture for ruminants, allowing temporary confinement for inclement weather, an animal's stage of production, to protect the health, safety or well being of the animals or when there is a risk to soil or water quality. EU require pasture for herbivores 'wherever conditions allow'. EU waves outdoor access for herbivores in winter under certain conditions. No justification was available.
Free range conditions, stocking rate - US NOP 2002 US has no provisions for stocking densities. EU Regulation 2092/91 defines the maximum stocking density per class or species and ha. No justification was available.
Inspections, general requirements - US NOP 2002 § 205.403 On-site inspections. A certifying agent must conduct an initial on-site inspection of each production unit. An on-site inspection shall be conducted annually thereafter. A certifying agent may conduct additional on-site inspections, announced or unannounced, of applicants for certification and certified operations. The Administrator or State organic program's governing State official may require that additional inspections be performed. The initial on-site inspection must be conducted within a reasonable time. The inspector must conduct an exit interview. The inspector shall provide the operation's authorized representative with a receipt for any samples taken by the inspector. There shall be no charge to the inspector for the samples taken. Both EU Regulation 2092/91 and US require annual inspections and additional announced or unannounced inspections. EU has a risk-based approach for additional visits; US does not specify this. US requires an exit interview, whereas EU does not specify this. The EU is more specific in documentary accounts. US require documents to be kept for 5 years, EU does not. EU requires in case of part conversion for crop and livestock production conventional units to be inspected, US requires operators to allow access to non-certified production and handling areas during inspection. No justification was available.
Inspections, specific provisions - US NOP 2002
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§ 205.403 ? 205.406 Inspection and certification US has no specific provisions for inspection of plant or animal production or processing but requires a production or handling system plan to be annually updated to describe in detail the management of the organic production.
EU Regulation 2092/91 has specific provisions for inspection in case an operator runs conventional and organic production units in the same area. The crop records must give a breakdown by plot and the livestock records detailed description on the herd and the herd management system. EU describes more detailed the provisions for records and for reception of products from other units and also covers provisions for sub-contracted units. US are less detailed. No justification was available.
Labelling claims, processed products - US NOP 2002
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The term, "organic," may only be used on labels and in labelling of raw or processed agricultural products, including ingredients, that have been produced and handled in accordance with the NOP rules. There are provisions for multi-ingredient products containing 100%, minimum 95%, minimum 70% and less than 70% organic ingredients. Only the term "organic" is defined, derivatives or other terms giving the impression that a product is organic are not covered by the regulation.
Use of organic: both EU and US require compliance with the EU Regulation 2092/91 in order to label products organic. However, US specifies that the term organic may not be used in a product name to modify a non-organic ingredient in the product. This is not addressed by EU. US allows the word organic to be used in the ingredient list of products containing less than 70% organic ingredients without certification of the handling operation; EU does not. US contains regulations for the labelling of 100% organic products; EU does not. The definition for 95%-organic products also refers to non-agricultural ingredients whereas the EU only refers to agricultural ingredients. US allows products for export to be labelled according to the foreign national organic standard. EU does not. The intent of these sections is to ensure that organically produced agricultural products and ingredients are consistently labelled to aid consumers in selection of organic products and to prevent labelling abuses. These provisions cover the labelling of a product as organic and are not intended to supersede other labelling requirements specified in other Federal labeling regulations. Further justifications for the labelling provisions are described in the attached extract of the NOP "Entire Standards".
Livestock housing, general requirements - US NOP 2002
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§ 205.239 Livestock living conditions. (a) The producer of an organic livestock operation must establish and maintain livestock living conditions which accommodate the health and natural behavior of animals, including: (1) Access to the outdoors (2) Access to pasture for ruminants (3) Appropriate clean, dry bedding. If the bedding is typically consumed by the animal species, it must comply with the feed requirements of § 205.237; (4) Shelter meeting the needs of animals (b) The producer of an organic livestock operation may provide temporary confinement for an animal under certain conditions
The detail of living condition standards differes between the US and the EU Regulation 2092/91. Both US and EU require outdoor access for any animals. US in addition requires pasture for ruminants, not allowing derogations, EU require pasture for herbivores 'wherever conditions allow'. EU waves outdoor access for herbivores in winter under certain conditions. EU allows tethering under specified conditions, US does not address tethering. US require bedding to meet feed requirements if is typically consumed by the animal species. EU does not address this. EU has detailed requirements for housing of poultry, US do not. EU defines minimum indoor and outdoor surface area and other characteristics of housing in the different species and types of production. No justification was available.
Livestock management, identification - US NOP 2002 US does not address the identification of animals. According to EU Regulation 2092/91 Livestock and livestock products are to be identified at all stages of their production, preparation, transport and marketing. US does not address this. No justification was available.
Manure fertilizers, application - US NOP 2002
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US requires composting of manure unless it is applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption or it is applied 90/120 days prior harvest of a product for human consumption (depending on whether the edible portion has direct contact to the soil or not)
EU Regulation 2092/91 requires that the quantity of manure applied annually may not exceed 170 kg of nitrogen/year/ha; US does not. US sets restrictions on the time between application of raw manure and the harvest of crops for human consumption; this is not addressed by EU. EU requires controlled fermentation and or appropriate dilution of slurry/urine; US sets restrictions only if applied on land used for a crop intended for human consumption. EU sets specific requirements for the capacity of manure storage facilities; US does not. EU requires consideration of the source of manure allowing manure from organic production units and regulating the amount of manure from conventional sources. EU prohibits manure from "factory farms" (but still allows from "extensive husbandry" under certain conditions). US does not address manure source. Raw manure contributes significant benefits to soil nutrient, structure, and biological activity that other soil fertility practices and materials do not provide. The responsibility to use raw manure in a manner that is protective of human health applies to all producers, whether organic or not, who apply such materials. USDA acknowledged the commenters who noted that the OFPA cites food safety concerns relative to manure use and, therefore, that food safety considerations should be reflected in the practice standard for applying raw manure in the final rule.
Manure fertilizers, composting - US NOP 2002 Provision for compost (§205.203, (2)): Composted plant and animal materials produced through a process that (i) established an initial C:N ratio of between 25:1 and 40:1; and (ii) maintained a temperature of between 131 F and 170 F for 3 days using an in-vessel or static aerated pile system; or (iii) maintained a temperature of between 131F and 170F for 15 days using a windrow composting system, during which period, the materials must be turned a minimum of five times. US requires composting of manure (with three exceptions where application of raw manure is acceptable). US defines 'compost' and sets requirements for composition, time, temperature, and number of times that it must be turned. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not include regulations for composting, other than allowing the use of plant-based and other biological preparations. US allows micro-organisms and other biological amendments unless specifically prohibited. An organic producer using a composted material containing manure must comply with the nutrient cycling and soil and water conservation provisions in his or her organic system plan but is not constrained by the restrictions that apply to raw manure. Therefore, producers intending to apply soil amendments will require clear and verifiable criteria to differentiate raw manure from composted material. USDA developed the requirements in the final rule for producing an allowed composted material by integrating standards used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and USDAs Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Mushroom production, not regulated - US NOP 2002 NOP does not have any provisions on mushroom production. NOP does not have any provisions on mushroom production. The EU Regulation 2092/91 has provisions. The NOP intends to provide standards for categories where the Act provides the authority to promulgate standards. NOP announced its intent to publish for comments certification standards for mushrooms. These standards will be build upon the existing final rule and will address only the unique requirements necessary to certify these specialized operations.
Origin of livestock, general requirements - US NOP 2002
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§ 205.236 Origin of livestock. (a) Livestock products that are to be labelled as organic must be from livestock under continuous organic management from the last third of gestation or hatching: Except that, (1) Poultry must have been under continuous organic management beginning no later than the second day of life; (2) Dairy animals. Milk or milk products must be from animals that have been under continuous organic management beginning no later than 1 year prior to the production. There are exceptions when an entire, distinct herd is converted to organic production. (3) Breeder stock. Livestock used as breeder stock may be brought from a non-organic operation.
The detail of US NOP standards differs from the EU Regulation 2092/91. US require slaughter stock to be under continuous organic management from the last third of gestation or hatching, except for day-old poultry. EU requires slaughter stock to come from organic units and allows non-organic slaughter stock under certain conditions, e.g. conversion of the whole farm or in case of poultry. US requires 12 months conversion period for dairy animals before labelling milk and milk products as organic. EU requires continuous organic management and under certain circumstances (see above) a minimum of 6 months. US allows conventional breeder stock whereas EU has further restrictions on conventional breeder stock. No justification was available.
Plant production, no special standards - US NOP 2002 NOP does not have any provisions for special plant production. NOP does not have any provisions for special plant production. The EU 2092/91 specifies for some plant protection products that they may only be used for special crops such as perennial crops, fruit trees, wines, olive trees and tropical crops. The US does not have such restrictions for plant protection products. The NOP intends to provide standards for categories where the Act provides the authority to promulgate standards. NOP announced its intend to publish for comments certification standards for apiculture, mushrooms, greenhouses and aquatic animals. These standards will build upon the existing final rule and will address only the unique requirements necessary to certify these specialized operations.
Plant protection, documentation - US NOP 2002
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The producer must use management practices to prevent crop pests, weeds, and diseases including but not limited to crop rotation and soil and crop nutrient management practices, sanitation measures and cultural practices that enhance crop health. A biological or botanical substance or a substance included on the national list of synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production may be applied to prevent, suppress, or control pests, weeds, or diseases: provided, that, the conditions for using the substance are documented in the organic system plan.
No differences in general except that the US has slightly different concept regarding documentation of farm practices compared with the EU Regulation 2092/91. No justification could be provided by USDA.
Scope of organic regulation - US National Organic Program 2002
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US regulates cultivated crop, wild crop, livestock, livestock feed and handling (preparation and processing) operations. For labelling purposes US only regulates the term 'organic', not derivatives or diminutives. Exemptions: US exempts producers and handlers with less than $5000/year total organic sales from certification requirements, although they must comply with the regulation.
EU Regulation 2092/91 is only applied to unprocessed agricultural products, processed agricultural products and feedstuff. US, in addition applies the regulation to processed non-food products although there are no specific provisions or exemptions (e.g. additives for producing cosmetics or textiles) for non-food products. EU regulates the terms 'organic', 'biologic', and 'ecologic', including their translations, derivatives, and diminutives. US only regulate the term 'organic'. US exempt producers and handlers with less than $5000/year. EU does not. Retail operations are not required to be certified by US, but by EU (with some exemptions). US exempt handlers that process products containing less than 70% organic ingredients from certification. EU prohibits such operations from identifying 'organic' ingredients on the information panels of products. No justification was given
Seed and plant material, origin - US NOP 2002
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The producer must use organically grown seeds, annual seedlings, and planting stock: Exceptions: In case equivalent organically produced varieties are not commercially available the following is allowed: (1) Non-organically produced, untreated seeds and planting stock; (2) Non-organically produced seeds and planting stock that have been treated with a substance included on the "National list of synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production". (3) Non-organically produced annual seedlings may be used when a temporary variance has been granted; (4) Non-organically produced planting stock to be used to produce a perennial crop only after the planting stock has been maintained under a system of organic management for a period of no less than 1 year; and (5) Products treated with prohibited substances may be used when the application of the materials is a requirement of Federal or State phytosanitary regulations. Organically produced seed must be used for the production of edible sprouts.
The EU Regulation 2092/91 requires the EU Member States to set up a database on the availability of seed varieties and seedlings. The US does not have an equivalent database. The EU specifies in Regulation (EG) 1452/2003 the conditions for authorizations for use of conventional seeds. The US does not. The EU aims at publishing a list of seeds and propagation material where no authorizations may be granted. The US does not mention this. EU does not allow using conventional seedlings. US do when a temporary variance has been granted. US specifically require organic seeds for edible sprouts; EU does not. US allows treatment of propagation materials with prohibited substances when mandated by phytosanitary regulations. EU does not contain such a provision. There was no official justification provided by USDA.
Slaughter and livestock husbandry - US NOP 2002 US has no specific provisions for husbandry practices and slaughter. EU Regulation 2092/91 allows artificial insemination but not embryo transfer. US does not address this however the use of hormones in the absence of illness in the US is not allowed. EU does not allow operations such as dehorning, cutting of teeth and other to be carried out systematically. EU defines minimum age for slaughter of poultry. US does not address this. No justification was available.
Transport of livestock, general requirements - US NOP 2002 US has no specific provisions for transport of organic animals. EU Regulation 2092/91 requires minimizingf stress during transport and loading, and prohibits the use of electrical stimulation to coerce animals as well as the use of any allopathic tranquilliser, prior to and during transport. US do not address transport of animals. No justification was available.
US NOP 2002: Aquaculture NOP does not have any provisions for aquaculture. No differences. The NOP intends to provide standards for categories where the Act provides the authority to promulgate standards. NOP announced its intend to publish for comments certification standards for apiculture, mushrooms, greenhouses and aquatic animals. An Aquatic Animal Task Force/ Aquaculture Working Group has been implemented by AMS/USDA.
US NOP 2002: Care of Environment The producer must manage plant and animal materials or crop nutrients to maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances. (§205.203 (c) and (d)) The producer of an organic livestock operation must manage manure in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, heavy metals, or pathogenic organisms and optimizes recycling of nutrients.( § 205.239 (c)) The EU does not refer to the care of environment.
US NOP 2002: Social justice and fair trade There are no provisions for social justice and fair trade. No differences
US NOP 2002: Special other animal standards There are no provisions for other animal standards - others than in EC Regulation. No differences
Veterinary treatment, alllopathic products - US NOP 2002
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§ 205.238 Livestock health care practice standard. (b) When preventive practices and veterinary biologics are inadequate to prevent sickness, a producer may administer synthetic medications: Provided, that, such medications are allowed under § 205.603. (c) The producer of an organic livestock operation must not: - label as organic any animal or edible product derived from any animal treated with antibiotics, any substance not allowed under § 205.603 or any nonsynthetic substance prohibited in § 205.604. - Administer any animal drug other than vaccinations, in the absence of illness; - Withhold medical treatment from a sick animal in an effort to preserve its organic status.
According to US only those animal drugs listed in under § 205.603 may be applied whereas EU Regulation 2092/91 allows administering chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary medicinal products or antibiotics provided that other measures are not effective and the withdrawal period is duplicated. US require animals treated with antibiotics or any substances not listed in the positive list to be sold as conventional. US prohibit parasiticides for slaughter stock and sets specific restrictions for their use on dairy and breeder stock. EU does neither prohibit parasiticides for slaughter stock nor set other restrictions on their use. No justification was available.