International Organic Accreditation Service

Welcome to the May, 2008 issue of the E-NEWS service provided by the IOAS and prepared specifically for regulatory authorities and related bodies active in the oversight of the organic food and farming sector. The mailing is now going to over 600 professionals in this sector. Its purpose is to provide regular, clear and concise information about the IOAS, its work and the wider organic regulatory world. Please pass it on to any colleagues you think may be interested. There is no charge, the distribution list is anonymous and unsubscribing can be done at any time just by responding to

Canada accreditation– following our audit by the Canadian Organic Office in March on April 10th, the IOAS received a letter from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirming compliance with the Canadian Organic Regime. This means that the IOAS is now able to accept applications from certification bodies anywhere in the world for accreditation under the Canadian Organic Regime. Please contact for more information.

The Canadian authorities are currently negotiating equivalence with their major trading partners and they hope to have recognition agreements in place before the December 14th, 2008 deadline. Although agreements with the USA and the EU are anticipated, such agreements will not cover activity of certification bodies outside of their home territory unless the authority can specifically verify such activity.

Current IOAS clients are considering Canada accreditation are strongly recommended to submit their applications before mid May so that we can forward your name to the Canadian authorities to be placed on the provisional approved list. The authorities will publish two lists; one for certification bodies active within Canada and one for those active outside of Canada . Any certification body may appear on both lists. For more information on accreditation under the Canadian Organic Regime, see the IOAS web site.

The European Commission released a further draft of the implementing rules for imports under Articles 32 and 33 of EC 834/2007. The rules explain the process by which third countries and certification bodies will be able to apply to be placed on the various 'approved' lists. The main change since the previous draft in November 2007 is that the initial time period for certification bodies to apply for equivalence has been extended from 6 to 12 months and for compliance from 6 months to 3 years. The IOAS expect these rules to be approved in mid 2008.

This means that a rough deadline for certification bodies to submit their applications to the European Commission to be entered on the first ‘equivalence’ lists is July 2009 (although this will of course depend on when the rules are approved). The IOAS is already working with current clients to ensure our surveillance in 2008 will provide the required information. To ensure sufficient time to make use of this year’s surveillance activity, the IOAS invites applications before July 2008.

Current non-clients of the IOAS who are considering accreditation or ‘equivalence assessment’ with us are strongly urged to contact us as soon as possible to discuss your needs.

Although the new import rules offer compliance and equivalence options for certification bodies outside of the EU, all indications from Commission staff is that the compliance route will only be successful if all clauses of the regulation are met to the letter. This will include all administrative clauses. Although the IOAS will offer both options, we strongly recommend opting for equivalence, especially where certification bodies are involved in smallholder group certification and where national databases are not established for verification of availability of organic seeds.

Certification bodies based in Europe but with activity outside of Member States will be required to prove compliance or equivalence in exactly the same way as non-EU based certification bodies. Accreditation or supervision that does not cover foreign activity will not be sufficient. For more information on the new EU import rules, go to our questions and answer page.

Gergana Nentcheva of Bulgariacommenced work with the IOAS on April 7 as our new Client Manager. Gergana was previously General Manager of Balkan Biocert in Bulgaria and brings with her a wealth of experience in the organic sector. Meet Gergana.

The National Organic Standards Board in the USA issued their latest guidance proposals on 'commercial availability of organic seed'. The proposals add more detail to guidance issued in 2005 and include measures for operators and ACAs (certification bodies). The proposal was discussed in the May 20-22 meeting of the NOSB.

EU enforces one accreditationmodel – in new legislation each Member State must appoint a single national accreditation body. In summary, the Commission shall draw up a list of the national accreditation bodies, to be made publicly available. Where accreditation is not operated directly by the public authorities themselves, Member States shall entrust the national accreditation body with the operation of accreditation as a public authority and grant it formal recognition on behalf of the government. Each Member State shall ensure that its national accreditation body has the appropriate resources for the proper performance of its tasks including for the fulfilment of special tasks, such as activities in European and international accreditation cooperation and activities that are required to support government policy and which are not self-financing.

IOAS training in 2008– in line with the IOAS mission of continuous improvement of organic certification and harmonisation of procedures for assessment and supervision, the IOAS are offering two types of training and professional development in 2008. Both are specifically focused on the organic agriculture sector; one course for assessors at accreditation level and two courses for managers of certification bodies. These courses are open to all. If interested please see the dates and details of the courses on our web site and/or contact

Commentson the performance and compliance with relevant norms are invited on the following certification bodies which are undergoing, or about to undergo, assessment or reassessment: TECPAR, Brasil (IFOAM), Ecoinspect, Rumania (ISO65), WSDA, USA (IFOAM & ISO65), Naturland, Germany (IFOAM), OIA, Argentina (IFOAM), JONA, Japan (IFOAM & ISO65), BIOS, Italy (IFOAM), BIO-GRO, New Zealand (IFOAM), ACT , Thailand (IFOAM & ISO65), Bioagricert, Italy (IFOAM), Ecocert-Afrisco, S.Africa (IFOAM and ISO65), CONU, S.Korea (IFOAM)

Complaintsare also invited on the work of both IOAS and accredited certification bodies. Complaints should be submitted in writing, providing as much detail as possible on the issue. The IOAS complaints policies can be found here.

For a complete list of IFOAM and ISO65 Accredited certification bodies, their scope and countries of activity, please go to and follow the links.

For more general information about the IOAS and the services we offer, please visit

This is a bimonthly service of the International Organic Accreditation Service specifically for governments and national authorities involved in regulating the organic food sector. Secure your own copy direct to your inbox by sending an email to crucefix@ioas.orgYou can unsubscribe at any time in the same way.

Back copies may be viewed on-line at

International Organic Accreditation Service

A non-profit organisation

40, 1st Ave West , Suite 104 , Dickinson,

N.D. 58601, USA

Tel: +1 701 483 5504 Fax: +1 701 483 5508