Australian Certified Organic (ACO) has taken action to ensure there is a unified and simple national approach to keep certified organic products non-GM.
The organic industry agreed recently not to approve an application from the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food for a level of adventitious presence of GM in organic products.
The National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce already prohibits GM and Australian Certified Organic submitted a proposal to ensure uniform application across the certified industry and to give clarity and surety to our certified organic farmers.
ACO regularly and randomly tests products bearing its logo for compliance to its standards.
Any presence of GM would deem a product or a crop to be sold as conventional, not certified organic.
ACO has put forward a proposal to ensure this remains a clear requirement under the organic standards for organic products. The expectation is that certified organic products are non GM and that requirement will remain so under the ACO branding and in turn the national standard requirements.
Farmers and graziers are also audited every year, in addition to unannounced inspections, to confirm compliance with the Australian Certified Organic Standard.
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What about contamination?
The reality is that there are thousands of GM crops being grown in Australia. Certified organic farmers now have to take extra precautions to reduce the risk of GMOs entering their farming environment and potentially affecting their certification. Similar to managing the risk of chemical contamination, it is one of the many costs that goes into delivering certified organic products to shoppers.
Under the national organic standard, if adventitious (accidental) GM plant material is found on a certified organic farm, the farm does not automatically lose certification. The farmer, however, is required to remove non-permitted plant material found on certified lands.
Each situation will vary and be determined by ACO, based on risk management to ensure no GM material enters the organic supply chain, let alone end products.
Active planting of GM material on farmland requires a conversion period for that land before it could re-attain organic status. GM is treated as a ‘prohibited input’.
ACO is focused on delivering non GM products to organic shoppers while also ensuring our organic farmers do not have their livelihoods threatened by this issue as they manage their farms organically for consumers – without using synthetic pesticides, herbicides or GMOs.
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