IFOAM – Organics International is a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Bonn, Germany. Founded in 1972 as the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) a membership organisation to represent the global organic movement promoting and lobbying for wider adoption of organic production, it remains true to that mission today.
IFOAM first set an international organic standard in 1980 and it has been the mother of all organic standards around the world today. In 1992, IFOAM developed their first requirements for organic certification and has worked with the global organic movement to develop these norms in consultation with auditors and certificate holders to be particularly suited for organic certification.
IFOAM accreditation is the international verification of competence for certification bodies active in organic agriculture. It is for those certification bodies who want to voluntarily demonstrate their commitment to the global organic movement and who want to show their support for a harmonised, common-sense conformity assessment system. IFOAM accreditation can be used by country authorities as a simple mechanism for equivalence of imports. Further information is available from the IFOAM – Organic International website.
Since 2012, the IFOAM Norms are consolidated in a single book that contains the “IFOAM Accreditation Requirements” (IAR) and the “IFOAM Standards”. All IFOAM accredited CBs, must operate in compliance with the IFOAM Accreditation Requirements. However, the IFOAM Accreditation Program allows two options in relation to the use of the organic standard:
- General option: Certification bodies can use any private standard or regulation approved in the IFOAM Family of Standards. The scope of their IFOAM Accreditation can therefore include all programs based on organic standards approved in the IFOAM Family of Standards. For all the programmes included in the scope, the certification body must operate in compliance with the IFOAM Accreditation Requirements. IFOAM Accredited Certification bodies may use the IFOAM Accreditation Seal according to the terms of IFOAM Accreditation Programme.
- Additional option: Certification bodies can choose to still operate a private standard that is compliant with the IFOAM Standard, in the scope of their IFOAM Accreditation. Such a standard will automatically be approved in the IFOAM Family of Standards based on its compliance with the IFOAM Standard which is itself in the Family. Certification bodies that choose this additional option can make an additional claim: that their private standard is compliant with the IFOAM Standard, including an option to use an “IFOAM-Standard” version of the IFOAM Accreditation Seal.
The IFOAM Accreditation is therefore now based on the following concepts:
Equivalence – when it comes to the standard (production rules). This is achieved through the reference to the IFOAM Family of Standards, and an audit by IOAS that verifies the correct application of those standards.
Compliance – when it comes to the accreditation requirements (rules for how the CB should operate). This is achieved through an audit by IOAS that verifies full compliance of the certification body with the IFOAM Accreditation Requirements.
Categories of certification are Aquaculture, Beekeeping, Crop production, Grower Groups, Input manufacturing, Livestock, Processing and handling and Wild products.
The requirements against which a certification body is assessed can be downloaded from the IFOAM web site at The IFOAM Norms | IFOAM.
Certification bodies are advised to review these carefully and ensure their operational compliance before application.
First steps in accreditation are as follows:
- Complete the standard IOAS application form
The IOAS IFOAM Accreditation Operating Manual provides full guidance on implementation of this scheme.