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Global Organic Standards and Regulations

Around the world, regional groups of organic farmers and their supporters began developing organic standards as early as the 1940s. They did so to establish an understanding of what "organic production" means, and to ensure that anyone calling their products "organic" was following a minimum set of production practices. This continues today with third-party certification, standards, and regulations.

Third-party Certification

By the 1970s, early organic standards had evolved into private organic standards formalized and enforced by certifying bodies (CBs). Today, there are hundreds of private organic standards worldwide.

Certifying bodies hire independent inspectors to visit farms and food processors annually. Based on reports delivered by these inspectors, a CB decides if a farmer or processor is in compliance with the CB’s organic standards. If in compliance, the farmer or processor may display the CB’s logo and/or name to show this compliance.

Standards and Regulations

As the market for organic products grows, governments around the world have passed regulations governing the use of the word "organic" and controlling labelling practices. Regulations protect the consumer against misleading or deceptive labelling practices and ensure that a minimum set of standards is being enforced.

Over seventy governments around the world have legislated organic standards and regulations, including those of the United States, the European Union, Japan and China. The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) has a task force working to harmonize standards around the world.


US US National Organic Program (NOP)

EU EU Regulations

Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS)