Organic produce and other products are on sale in nearly every grocery store these days, but what does the label of "organic" actually mean? Due to the efforts of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), there now exists an international standard by which certification organizations may judge agricultural products as organic.
What organic agriculture is
There are several widely accepted principles behind the word "organic," the first of which is that organic products are grown and harvested in a manner that sustains and improves the health of the entire ecosystem: plants, animals, human stewards and consumers, and even the earth itself. To this end, organic agriculture should not use potentially harmful chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers and animal drugs, and animals raised organically are provided with an environment that promotes their health and well-being. Another aspect of organic agriculture is that human relationships are conducted with fairness and respect at all levels of production, from farmers to distributors to consumers. Standards for organic principles are now legally defined in the regulations of over 60 governments.
The IFOAM standard of organic agriculture
IFOAM is currently working to introduce the Organic Guarantee System, which would facilitate an international standard of organic production. Within that system, it offers the IFOAM Accreditation Program, through which third-party certification organizations can gain IFOAM accreditation if they meet IFOAM's international standards. This system is intended to ensure that all accredited certification organizations can judge whether or not products are organic by using the same criteria.
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