First steps to better organic regulations

Organic Industries of Australia (OIA) welcomes the announcement from the Australian Government on consultations to improve the regulation of organic products.

One of the main reasons the organic industry originally established OIA was to lobby the Government for better domestic regulation of the use of the term ‘organic’. Since 2018, we have consistently advised Government that the lack of domestic regulation is:

- bad for organic consumers, in that there is no protection from products being sold in Australia as organic when they may well have been produced using synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides
- bad for organic producers who have additional production costs and certification requirements, and who currently have to compete with products that are labelled ‘organic’, but which are not certified organic
- bad for organic exporters, whose access to markets is constrained because many of our trading partners think the lack of domestic regulation undermines the case for accepting our organic exports.

In Australia, the term ‘organic’ is not regulated as it is in the United States, Japan and China. It is legal to produce a product and call it ‘organic’ without providing the consumer with any proof that it is actually organic. In fact, Australia is the only advanced country that doesn’t regulate use of the term ‘organic’ or is well-progressed in implementing such regulation.
 
OIA is glad to participate in the Minister’s Organic Industry Advisory Group (OIAG), but we would like to see OIAG expanded to include a balanced representation of organic operators from each of the six certifying organisations.
 
OIA will be advocating strongly for the adoption of world leading regulations, including:

- consistent domestic and export regulation, to minimize certification costs and improve market access for our exporters
- legal enforcement that ‘organic’ means all stages of production have been certified as using organic methods
- better governance arrangements, so consumers and producers can have confidence in the regulatory system
- better information sources, so the industry and decision makes can have confidence in organic market information.

OIA Ltd is the independent peak body representing all Australian organic operators, regardless of which certifier provides their organic certification. Our members include some of Australia’s largest organic certifiers, producers and exporters.

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