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What is wrong with the Draft Law for chemical-free foods?

FSSAI Regulations for Organic GoodsOrganic Food Laws in India

Food and Standards (Organic Food) Regulations, 2017

Organic is the latest buzz word in the Agricultural sector today and government with its plan to organize, regulate and implement is thinking of coming up with a Food and Standards (Organic Food)Regulations, 2017 bill, as per the latest announcement made by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in view of curbing fake organic products.

The demand of regulating Organic foods is being led by Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI). In 2014, CCFI has released a report on pesticides in organic vegetables prepared by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) which has not been made public by them yet. The CCFI as per media reports allegedly promotes pesticide companies and the idea of having a regulation backs their interests. How much of this is truth, we have to wait and see when the final legislation comes out and fair in results.

Small traces of pesticides can be found in organic vegetables as it can seep through water, air and even the produce. IARI did a small test on 150 vegetable samples from one organic store in Delhi and found traces in 50, in 10 of them the levels were above (MRL) maximum residue limit. The farm was certified from of the largest NPOP certifiers. We definitely need a PAN India study to better ascertain the situation and come with better policy for regulating growth of organic foods in India.

Whether certification is an answer to this problem? Both NPOP and PSG will stand to test to this. Fake organic brands are not a safety issue but an issue of misleading and misbranding.

FSSAI as definition and penalty for both but the Food and Safety Act doesn’t specify to prevent misleading ads and misbranding the product has to certify. Organic foods will be going through this test as per the draft introduced. Let us understand how this certification will be put to place and first understand the certification.

As per this Regulation, the products marked as “ORGANIC” there onwards has to be certified by either Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS) or National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP). Let us understand what they mean in brief:

 

 

NPOP is designed for the export market and includes 3rd party companies which will verify the organic status.

PSG is a collective of Farmers that guarantees everyone in the group practices organic farming

 

  1. Both PGS and NPOP are process-based certifications.
  2. It covers processes, practices of farming and food processing but not testing food for pesticides residues.
  3. NPOP is more expensive than PGS which is preferred by big farmers, companies and exporters.

 

Difference-

1 In NPOP, the produce of a NPOP-certified farm can be processed by a NPOP-certified processor and sold as ‘organic’. The NPOP processor cannot take fresh produce from a PGS farmer, process it and sell it as ‘Organic’

2 In PGS only, the food processed by a PGS group of farmers can be labeled as ‘organic’. Now the challenge is, PGS groups are run by the small farmers who are not capable of processing organic produce and they give their produce to other processors for value addition.

Bottlenecks-

1 It will be difficult for the small farmers to sell their produce for value addition. Then they have to sell it to consumer directly or get NPOP certification which will make product more expensive and uncompetitive. Whereas if he sells only fresh produce, value addition is low that encourages them to leave Organic Farming.

What will happen next?

The growth of organic sector will halt for a moment or may be a longer period. The draft shouldn’t hinder the prospects of organic foods in India at such a nascent stage. We should be moving towards more strict checks for misleading products rather taking the organic foods through expensive mechanism of certification processes. 

Food and Standards (Organic Food) Regulations, 2017

Organic is the latest buzz word in the Agricultural sector today and government with its plan to organize, regulate and implement is thinking of coming up with a Food and Standards (Organic Food)Regulations, 2017 bill, as per the latest announcement made by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in view of curbing fake organic products.

The demand of regulating Organic foods is being led by Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI). In 2014, CCFI has released a report on pesticides in organic vegetables prepared by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) which has not been made public by them yet. The CCFI as per media reports allegedly promotes pesticide companies and the idea of having a regulation backs their interests. How much of this is truth, we have to wait and see when the final legislation comes out and fair in results.

Small traces of pesticides can be found in organic vegetables as it can seep through water, air and even the produce. IARI did a small test on 150 vegetable samples from one organic store in Delhi and found traces in 50, in 10 of them the levels were above (MRL) maximum residue limit. The farm was certified from of the largest NPOP certifiers. We definitely need a PAN India study to better ascertain the situation and come with better policy for regulating growth of organic foods in India.

Whether certification is an answer to this problem? Both NPOP and PSG will stand to test to this. Fake organic brands are not a safety issue but an issue of misleading and misbranding.

FSSAI as definition and penalty for both but the Food and Safety Act doesn’t specify to prevent misleading ads and misbranding the product has to certify. Organic foods will be going through this test as per the draft introduced. Let us understand how this certification will be put to place and first understand the certification.

As per this Regulation, the products marked as “ORGANIC” there onwards has to be certified by either Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS) or National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP). Let us understand what they mean in brief:

NPOP is designed for the export market and includes 3rd party companies which will verify the organic status.

PSG is a collective of Farmers that guarantees everyone in the group practices organic farming

 

  1. Both PGS and NPOP are process-based certifications.
  2. It covers processes, practices of farming and food processing but not testing food for pesticides residues.
  3. NPOP is more expensive than PGS which is preferred by big farmers, companies and exporters.

 

Difference-

1 In NPOP, the produce of a NPOP-certified farm can be processed by a NPOP-certified processor and sold as ‘organic’. The NPOP processor cannot take fresh produce from a PGS farmer, process it and sell it as ‘Organic’

2 In PGS only, the food processed by a PGS group of farmers can be labeled as ‘organic’. Now the challenge is, PGS groups are run by the small farmers who are not capable of processing organic produce and they give their produce to other processors for value addition.

Bottlenecks-

1 It will be difficult for the small farmers to sell their produce for value addition. Then they have to sell it to consumer directly or get NPOP certification which will make product more expensive and uncompetitive. Whereas if he sells only fresh produce, value addition is low that encourages them to leave Organic Farming.

What will happen next?

The growth of organic sector will halt for a moment or may be a longer period. The draft shouldn’t hinder the prospects of organic foods in India at such a nascent stage. We should be moving towards more strict checks for misleading products rather taking the organic foods through expensive mechanism of certification processes. 

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