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Organic certification agencies are no longer certifying ‘high-risk’ products

Organic certification agencies are no longer certifying 'high-risk' products

Organic certification agencies are no longer certifying ‘high-risk’ products

Cotton, soyabean, and sesame are among the crops that some organic certification firms, such as Control Union and Lacon Quality Certification, have opted to exclude from their commercial operations in India, characterizing them as ‘high risk.’

Farmers’ organizations will be looking for alternative certifying authorities to continue supplying organic products as a result of the decision. Also Read | Amit Shah ministry to open labs across the country to certify organic land and products.

‘The management has taken a decision not to continue with organic certification of cotton, soyabean, sesame, sugar, and moringa powder that fall under high risk either during production, processing, handling, storing, trading, or exporting,’ Control Union Inspections and Certifications India said in a communication to clients earlier this month. The decision was made in response to ‘articles published in various media’ about organic agro certification in India and its subsequent classification as a high-risk certification body, according to the statement.

Before the start of the next Kharif season, the company advised its clients dealing with these products to shift to other certification organizations or withdraw the products from certification.

Similarly, Lacon Quality Certification has asked its clients to confirm their acceptance by April 26th, as the company has opted not to certify items ‘that are considered high risk by accreditation authorities’ in order to continue serving organic regulatory compliance operators.

Cotton, sesame, soyabean, and their derivatives are among the high-risk crops identified by Lacon. Binay Kumar Choudhury, chairman of Control Union Inspections & Certifications India, declined to comment, while Bobby Issac, director of Lacon Quality, could not be reached.

Removed from the Category A list

Control Union India was recently delisted from Category A under the NPOP-EEC equivalency agreement, as well as being classified as a high-risk certification body. To regulate organic products, India has the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), and Europe has the European Economic Community (EEC).

Following reports of action against certification agencies for using fictitious growers’ groups, thousands of organic farmers from nine districts in Madhya Pradesh sought recognition from the Centre to continue chemical-free farming.

Because the certification process is more expensive and beyond the means of a small farmer, traders and corporations used to form growers’ groups and register them with certification bodies to facilitate the export of finished goods. Also Read | Govt to issue globally valid certification to organic farmers – Amit Shah.

Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Commerce, recently told Parliament that the government had taken action against several certification bodies. ‘The accreditation of Natural Organic Certification Agro Private Limited under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) was suspended for 6 months in 2013.’ Similarly, Bio-Cert India Private Limited’s accreditation was terminated under the NPOP in 2015, Intertech India Private Limited’s accreditation was suspended for 6 months and a penalty of ₹ 6 lakh was levied in 2019. In March, Patel responded to supplementary questions in the Lok Sabha by saying, ‘There is a long list of such certification bodies.’

There will be no compromises

‘We will not endanger the country’s reputation.’ The National Accreditation Board certifies certification agencies or bodies, which certify organic products and awards them the ‘India Organic’ mark. APEDA investigates any complaints that may arise. We suspend the accreditation of those certification bodies if there are irregularities, malpractices, or any procedural lapses to ensure that these standards, which are in accordance with international standards, are never jeopardised,’ the minister had stated.