The Soil Association is updating its organic standards to make them more practical and transparent and is calling on the public to give its opinion.
It will launch several public consultations on the proposed new standards for organic processing in November 2015, on new agriculture and horticulture in spring 2016. The consultation for aquaculture standards took place in July and results will be published in January next year.
“We can’t speak for other organic certification schemes, but organic standards can be cumbersome legal documents (…).We’re making our standards more plain speaking and practical, so they are clearer than ever about the aims and benefits of organic food production,” said a spokesperson for the Soil Association.
Some of the it certification requirements are stricter the EU’s minimum required standards, and while it has said that this will not change, the new proposed standards would allow farmers and manufacturers to know which standards are required by EU regulation and which are specific to the Soil Association. This included areas such as nature conservation, animal welfare and nanotechnology.
The proposed standards would also stipulate what is required, rather than how it needed to be achieved, meaning more freedom for manufacturers and producers, according to the spokesperson.
For instance, while the current standards required aquaculture operators to measure a specific set of water quality indicators – such as dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll and temperature – they were not required to do anything with this data.
The Soil Association said it wants the water quality requirements to be matched to specific requirements for the animals’ developmental, physiological and behavioural needs.
“[If] there are other new or additional ways that good water quality can be demonstrated the new standard will offer more freedom for aquaculture operators to use these.”
The Soil Association has reviewed its standards several times since they were established in 1973, the last time being in 2004.