ifoam'96 ifoam'96
Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
EcoWeb Denmark


Chemical analysis in the certification of org. production and products. W12

Rundgren, Gunnar

CEO GroLink AB Torfolk, 684 91 Munkfors, Sweden

Organic agriculture is a production system that is based on good agricultural practices including good crop rotation, soil fertility managment etc. In addition to this it refrains from the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Organic products are products coming from such a production system, and which are processed etc. so that mixing with nonorganic products is prevented and that contamination from processing, storage etc. is avoided. To be able to verify and certify that a product is organic, methods have been developed by organic certification programs during more than 20 years.Later years these methods are also implemented by authorities and regulations. These methods are based on physical inspection of the production methods, records, crops, animals, storages etc. By analysing all the gathered data, the adherence to the standards can be assessed. Chemical analysis are only included as spotchecks, or taken by direct suspiscion,making chemical analysis only a marginal method for organic agriculture certification. The reasons for this are the following:
1. It is not possible to verify that a product is organically produced through means of chemical analysis. -As indicated above organic productionis more that refraining from use of chemicals. This is not reflected inchemical analysis. -Use of chemical fertilisers is not possible to detect via any known method of chemical analysis of products. -Use of most modern pesticides is very difficult to detect via chemical analysis. 2. Organic production standards normally do not contain any regulation of maximum content of residues etc. and organic products are not defined as residue free products. 3. Chemical analysis can sometimes be used for verifying that a product is not organic. -Residue analysis can sometimes be a useful tool to verify that an unauthorised product has been used in the production. In this case analysis are used for the purpose of with drawing certification but not for certification.
4. Chemical analysis is a very expensive tool. -Routine use of these in the certification process will make certification costs far to high in relation to the value of the production, and in relation to the risk (for the consumers) in case of fraud.
Regarding the establisment of maximum acceptable levels of residues inorganic products. There are two reasons for establishing maximum acceptable levels of residues in organic products. 1. Consumer »protection«. Consumers may beleive that organic product are residue free and thus feel betrayed if they understand that residues can occur. For a consumer, that wants to have a guarantee that organic products are residue free, it is irrelevant why there are residues in the product. Levels should thus not make any difference to whether the residue is a result of application, local contamination or general contamination in the environment. 2. Making certification work easier. If residues are find today, the certification program still must prove that these residues are a result from a direct application, if the standards have no other regulations. With a maximum level of residue the result would be that certification is withdrawn from the products, but not necessarily from the production site (field etc.) if it can not be established that the production site is contaminated.