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Canada publishes revised organic standards

Canada publishes revised organic standards
Photo: Loblaw Companies Limited

On December 11, 2020, the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) published a revised version of the Canadian Organic Standards – the set of principles, guidelines, and permitted substances by the Canada Organic Regime (COR). A concurrent Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) notice officially communicated the changes to organic stakeholders, highlighting the implementation period (generally 12 months) for the new versions of the standards.

All organic operators subject to the COR must be fully compliant with the new versions of the standards by November 26, 2021. Operations certified organic before the revised standards were announced on December 11, 2020, are encouraged to comply with the new versions of the standards throughout the implementation period. Organic products and ingredients certified organic under the previous standards (i.e., before December 11, 2020), can continue to be marketed as organic even after the implementation period ends on December 11, 2021.

Included within the 2020 revisions to the Canadian Organic Standards are measures to increase flexibility for organic operations during periods of natural disaster as well as to establish organic operators’ responsibility to protect and promote biodiversity. The Organic Federation of Canada (OFC) has published a side-by-side comparison of the original and revised sections of the Canadian Organic Standards, highlighting the 2020 modifications.

Canada defines organic production as a “holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock, and people. The principal goal of organic production is to develop operations that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.”