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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract front page
Subject index
Athor index


Environmental management S4

Thierrin, Raphael

Food + Fibre EcoStrategies208, 4515-45th Street SW, Calgary, Canada T3E 6K7

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Now that Environmental Auditing is a significant tool for evaluating the environmental performance of a facility, it is pertinent to re-evaluate the Organic Certification Process and to examine whether it should evolve in the same direction as Environmental Audits, for the benefit of farmers, of consumers, and of the environment.

The objectives of this presentation are to: 1)identify the degree to which the Organic Certification Process already contributes to higher environmental management by farmers 2) ,review the similarities and differences between Organic Certification and Environmental Auditing 3) consider whether changes in the Organic Certification Process would enable this process to better fulfill its role as an environmental management tool.

The presentation is based on a master's thesis which examined the applicability of environmental auditing to Canadian Prairie farms, and which reviewed organic certification as a possible model for auditing. Findings from this thesis are tailored more specifically to the organic industry here.
It is found that the Organic Certification Process practiced in Western Canada compares favourably with Environmental Auditing. The annual peerreviewed, third-party certification system has numerous strengths. Also, the inspection appears to cover most items which can be linked with agricultural sustainability. However, the system's infrastructure is weak.This could lead to a loss of credibility in organic foods, if the situationis not remedied soon.

Aside from these structural adjustments, it is recommended that the Organic Certification Process adopt two key features of Environmental Audits: 1) The first inspection should be much more thorough. 2)The information from an inspection or audit can serve additional purposes, beyond certification.
It is anticipated that, once the Organic Certification Process has been upgraded so that it is on par with recognized environmental managementtools, then it may provide a mean for obtaining up-to-date information on sustainability indicators, thereby enhancing its role and usefulness.

Riddle, J. and J. Ford (1995): Organic inspection manual. Independent Organic Inspectors Association, Winona, Minnesota, U.S. 121 pages.

Thierrin, R. (1996): Environmental auditing of Prairie farms. A Master'sDegree Project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for thedegree of Master of Environmental Design (Environmental Science). 196pages.

Thompson, D. and M. Wilson (1994): Environmental auditing: Theory andapplications. In: Environmental Management, Vol. 18, no. 4, p. 605-615.