1. Agriculture World

'APEDA's Supervision of Agencies Certifying Organic Product Export should be Ended: AOI

Shivam Dwivedi
Shivam Dwivedi
Organic Products
Fruits & Vegetables

The Alliance for Organic Integrity (AOI), a non-profit organization based in the United States that represents key players in the organic industry, has asked the European Committee on Organic Production to withdraw its approval for the APEDA to supervise organic products export certifying bodies or agencies (CBs).

In feedback on organic farming- trading products (implementing rules, AOI that claims to strengthen the integrity of organic guarantees), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated that it had withdrawn its approval of APEDA and that “we consider it as a more appropriate reaction,” referring to the EU blacklisting five CBs from certifying organic products exported from India to the European Commission.

The Alliance joins four other European Union organizations that deal with organic products- Organic Processing and Trade Association (OPTA), Europe, SYNABIO, BioNederland, and Association for Organic Food Producers -in asking the EU Committee on Organic Production to stop APEDA from supervising certifying agencies.

Violations of ETO Norm

These organizations' efforts come on the heels of the European Committee on Organic Production decertifying five CBs -CU Inspections India, Ecocert India, Indian Organic Certification Agency (Indocert), Lacon Quality Certifications, and OneCert International - for failing to meet the ethylene oxide (ETO) presence in organic consignments imported into the EU, particularly sesame (til/gingelly).

With the exception of OneCert International, a US-based firm, the rest are European-based CBs. These moves, according to trade analysts, are part of a coordinated effort to undermine APEDA's role in organic produce exports.

After issuing at least 90 notifications in the previous few months, the EU withdrew recognition, valid until 2026, to the five firms certifying organic product exports from India.

The five de-recognized agencies certified nearly 80% of Indian organic products exported to Europe. APEDA officials chose not to comment on the news.

According to S Chandrasekaran, a trade analyst based in Delhi, the move by these organizations is aimed at dictating terms on behalf of the certifying agencies and interfering with India's sovereign rights.

APEDA's subsequent action

However, APEDA responded to the five firms' de-recognition by suspending accreditation to Aditi Organic Certification for a year and prohibiting four others -CU Inspections India, ECOCERT India, Indian Organic Certification Agency (Indocert), and OneCert International -from registering any new organic processor or exporter for organic product certification after some shipments cleared by them failed to meet the ETO presence norms.

The AOI proposed that the EU collaborate with the National Organic Program of the United States on a common approach to the same problem, resulting in more effective action.

AOI President Francis Blake said de-recognition will cause major problems in the Indian organic market, with many small farmers bearing the brunt of the consequences. He proposed that the supervision of CBs be transferred from APEDA to “appropriate national and international accreditation bodies.”

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