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International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements is an international agricultural organization that tries to lead, unite and aid the organic movement.

The mission of IFOAM is, according to the organization, “leading, uniting and assisting the organic movement in its full diversity. Our goal is the worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially and economically sound systems that are based on the principles of Organic Agriculture.”

Among its wide range of roles, IFOAM works to spread a standard of organic agriculture, as well as a framework to regulate the organic certification.

The federation, founded in Versailles (France) the 5th of November 1972, currently unites a large part of the businesses and pertinent organizations in the organic movement: in 2007, there were 750 members belonging to 108 countries.

Through international conferences, committee meetings and other forums, IFOAM tries to facilitate constructive and progressive dialogue on the state and the future of organic agriculture. IFOAM sets in motion specific projects of organic agriculture, especially in developing countries.

While promoting its own association, IFOAM has the status of observer, is a member or is accredited by the following international institutions:

  • Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
  • Codex Alimentarius Commission (FAO and WHO).
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
  • International Labor Organization (ILO).
  • The International Task Force on Harmonization and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture (ITF).
  • International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL) Alliance.

The IFOAM organic guarantee system

According to the organization, “agriculture is one of humankind’s most basic activities because all people need to nourish themselves daily. History, culture and community values are embedded in agriculture.

The Principles apply to agriculture in the broadest sense, including the way people tend soils, water, plants and animals in order to produce, prepare and distribute food and other goods. They concern the way people interact with living landscapes, relate to one another and shape the legacy of future generations.”

The Organic Guarantee System (OGS) aims to serve as a worldwide standard for production, processing, verification and commercial identification. It provides the certification agencies the possibility to obtainIFOAM accreditation and to allow users to label their products with the IFOAM seal alongside the logo of the certifying agency. More than 35 certification agencies participate in the IFOAM accreditation system.

  • The Accreditation Program of IFOAM is implemented by the International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS).
  • The Basic Standards of IFOAM (IBS) and the Accreditation Criteria (IAC) are seen, according to the organization, as the international guide for the development of regional standards inspection systems.
  • The European standards known as the EU-Eco-regulation, from June 24, 1991, which define how food and agricultural products are designated as ecological products have to be grown, is based on the recommendations developed on the matter by IFOAM.
  • The Organic Trade Association (OTA) and the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) are full members of IFOAM.
  • For more information about IFOAM, on the organization’s website and Wikipedia.