Organic Rules and Certification

All differences in one table by Subjects

  • Subject Areas
    • Crop production
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Title Description Difference Justification and Comments
Certification, general requirements - US NOP 2002
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ยง 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.
Contamination, GMO crops - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 Genetically modified crops must not be grown on any holding in the same ownership or management as an organic holding. Applicants for conversion must inform the Soil Association if they have grown genetically modified crops in the previous three years. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 3.6.19. Soil Association standards contain a prohibition and a requirement not included in EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards prohibit the growing of any genetically modified crop on any land under the same ownership or management as an organic holding, and they require to be informed if an applicant for conversion has grown genetically modified crops in the previous three years. EU Regulation has no similar prohibition or requirement. The Soil Association standards aim to prevent any possible contamination of organic crops with genetically modified material by prohibiting the owner or manager of an organic holding. The requirement to be informed if an applicant has grown them in the previous three years would help them to be more vigilant if necessary in this aspect of inspection. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are prohibited from use in organic farming because of the unpredictable nature of the technology, and the risks to health and the environment.
Contamination, GMO crops, location - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005 The organic farmer must inform Soil Association of any genetically modified crop being grown within 6 miles of an organic crop under their inspection system. Soil Association will assess the risk of contamination of the organic farm and crops. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 3.6.20-3.6.22. Soil Association standards contain requirements not included in EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards require the organic farmer to inform them of any genetically modified crop being grown within 6 miles of the organic farm. Soil Association will assess the contamination risks and decide accordingly on further action. EU Regulation has no similar requirement. Although pollen from genetically modified crops can travel much further than 6 miles, the Soil Association have taken this distance as a reasonable cut-off point to identify possible contamination of organic farms and crops. Genetically modified organisms are prohibited from use in organic farming because of the unpredictable nature of the technology, and the risks to health and the environment.
Contamination, buffer zones - SE KRAV 2006
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When chemical pesticides or chemical fertilisers are used on neighbouring land to organic farmland actions should be taken to minimise the risk of contamination. This can be an agreement with the neighbour about a buffer zone, establishing an own buffer zone or planting a windbreak. On a not fully converted organic farm there should be an internal buffer zone for land where chemical pesticides are used (KRAV standards paragraph 4.2.3 and 4.2.4).
In EU 2092/91 there are general requirements for reducing the risk of contamination but the KRAV standards are more specific. The risk for contamination from drift is an important issue. The risk varies depending on the neighbours farming activities. The establishment of a specified internal buffer zone in a not fully converted organic farm is necessary for both reducing drift and also to clearly separate organic and conventional farming.
Contamination, pollution, highways - SE KRAV Standards 2006
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Areas were plants are cultivated and products stored should be located so that the production is not contaminated and the value of the production is reduced as food or feed. Crop production for food shall not be situated closer then 25 meters from roads having more then 3000 vehicles per 24 hours (KRAV Standards paragraph 4.2.1)
There are general requirements in the EU Regulation 2092/91 about the risk of contamination of products in the inspection requirements in Annex III but not in the production rules. There is no regulation of the distance to roads or other pollution sources in the EU Regulation 2092/91. This is a standard which has strong consumer support. The concern about contamination from cars into fields and crops close to roads is substantial. There is little scientific research in this area which should be of concern not only for organic but also for conventional produce.
Crop rotation - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Soil Association standards require that, where a crop rotation is possible, it must use a sequence where the fertility building and fertility depleting crops maintain a balance, it must include crops with various root systems, it must include a legume crop, and it must leave enough time between crops with similar pest and disease risks. Where the rotation is not to this standard and relies on inputs, the farmer must show that the rotation is improving, is reducing the inputs, and is making maximum use of legumes and green manures. At least 3 seasons must be allowed between outdoor crops of alliums, brassicas or potatoes, but successional crops in the same year are allowed. With permission, two crops of the same family may be grown in successional years followed by a 6-year break. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraphs 5.1.10-5.1.13.)
Soil Association require: where a crop rotation is possible, it must follow a number of specified rules regarding the types of crop and their sequence in the rotation. EU Regulations 2092/91 requires that the soil fertility and biological activity must be maintained by a multi-annual rotation including legumes, green manures or deep-rooting plants, but the requirements for the rotation are no more detailed than that. The Soil Association standards on crop rotations are intended to ensure that the rotation will be an effective means of maintaining soil fertility and of controlling pests and diseases without the need for recourse to excessive or restricted inputs. The crop rotation specifications are intended to achieve maximum environmental benefits and minimum risks of environmental pollution or harm to biodiversity. The standards anticipate some of the most likely ways that rotations may be compromised by poor practice, and they include requirements and restrictions that aim to prevent these problems.
Cropping systems, prohibited - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Even cropping systems that do not rely on rotations must still comply with the methods of nutrient supply, weed, pest and disease control set out in the rules for crop establishment and growth, and they must not rely on outside inputs. Continuous arable rotations are prohibited. (Soil Association Organic Standards, Sections 4.6-4.11 and Paragraphs 5.1.14 and 5.1.15.)
Soil Association standards are more detailed than the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards prohibit any cropping systems that rely strongly on outside inputs for nutrient supply, weed, pest and disease control, and any that are based on continuous arable rotations. EU Regulation does not include these specific prohibitions. The Soil Association standards are partly intended to prohibit hydroponic crop production, while allowing flexibility for other sustainable cropping systems. Hydroponic cropping systems rely on high levels of nutrient and energy input and are therefore considered unsustainable. The prohibitions on continuous arable rotations and on systems relying on outside inputs enhance the enforceability of the positive requirements for diverse, multi-annual rotation.
Fertilization, substrates, heavy metals - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Best practice recommendations are explained regarding heavy metal in soil. Maximum permitted levels of heavy metals are specified for topsoil and manure. Soil Association standards explain that soil heavy metal concentrations need to be maintained at healthy levels and that nutrient inputs should not increase concentrations above acceptable levels. This is followed by a table specifying the maximum permitted levels of heavy metals (in total dry matter) for soils and manures. These include zinc, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, cadmium, mercury and arsenic. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 4.9.2.)
Soil Association standards contain recommendations and restrictions on heavy metal levels for topsoil and manure, whereas EU Regulation 2092/91 only mentions heavy metal levels for household wastes and phosphate fertilizers. High levels of heavy metals in soil can be toxic to crop plants, and can be taken up by crops and cause health problems to people. High levels of heavy metals in manures can lead to accumulation in the soil to which they are applied. This could lead to longer-term problems for crop yields and safety. Soil Association restrictions on heavy metal in soils and manures are intended to minimise these associated risks.
Fertilizers, substrates, animal by-products - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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With prior Soil Association permission, a number of soil nutrient supplements are permitted for use to treat severe deficiencies. Among these, animal by-products are subject to particular restrictions. Soil Association standards permit the use of meat, blood, bone, hoof and horn meals, with prior permission, only in compost for use in plant propagation and not on units where there are cattle or sheep. Wool shoddy may be used, with prior permission, only if not in direct contact with the crop. Fish meals and fish emulsions may be used, with prior permission, if they do not contain prohibited substances and only in protected cropping, propagating composts or perennial crops. (Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 4.8.10.)
Soil Association standards restrict the use of animal by products. EU Regulation 2092/91 generally permits animal by-products (such as meat, blood, bone, hoof and horn meals, wool shoddy, fish products) for use where the need is recognised by the inspection body. Soil Association standards are particularly cautious regarding the use of animal by-products as soil nutrient supplements partly due to the risk of contamination of crops with agents or vectors of infectious disease, such as BSE infected prions on pasture. "Intense exploitation of fish stocks to produce fish meal has major implications for the integrity of marine ecosystems." (Little and Edwards, 2003). Regular use of fish products for crop nutrition would not be compatible with organic ecological principles. Reference: Little, D.C. and Edwards, P. (2003) Integrated livestock - fish farming systems. URL: >
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, crop rotation - UK Soil Association standards 2005 It is permitted to grow crops without the use of a multi-annual rotation in such cropping systems as protected cropping, permanent pasture, perennial crops and wild harvesting, but the cropping system must not rely on external inputs nor involve continuous arable crops. Soil Association Organic Standards. Paragraph 5.1.14 and 5.1.15. Soil Association standards contain further detail to the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards set out the circumstances in which it is permitted to practice cropping without a multi-annual rotation. EU Regulation requires a multi-annual rotation for crop production to maintain soil fertility and to control weeds, pests and diseases, but it does not explain clearly those cropping systems that would not require such a rotation. The Soil Association standards are intended to place clear and unambiguous requirements on the producer regarding when it is appropriate to make use of crop rotations and when it is not. For example, it could be harmful to biodiversity and could cause pollution to initiate a cropping rotation on land that had been in permanent pasture.