IOAS Update December, 2022

In this Update - 

IOAS 25th Celebration meeting along with IOAS service developments and improvements. EUGOTS and Textile Exchange updates and interesting recent publications.

Season's greetings and best wishes from the IOAS
IOAS 25th Anniversary celebration meeting

IOAS held a celebration event in Croatia for our 25th Anniversary, where we also conducted the annual training, Board and Committee meetings. It was the first in-person meeting we have had since pre-2020, and so it was the first time many of us had ever met in person. We enjoyed celebrating 25 years of challenges and success, and it was an ideal time to review our past and make plans for our future.

Jim Riddle, who worked to help create the IOAS by serving as one of the first IOAS Board members joined us in Croatia, and offers these reflections on the early years.

"I joined the IFOAM Accreditation Programme Board (IAPB) in 1996 having served as founding president of the International Organic Inspectors Association since 1991 and delivering organic inspector training courses around the world.

During my time on the IFOAM board, we worked on bylaws and articles of incorporation for the new entity, IOAS. We spent a lot of time developing the accreditation criteria, and working out our relationship with IFOAM, since it would now exist as a separate legal company. 

IOAS started with only one initial employee Ken Commins, today IOAS has a staff of 24 and continues to grow. In addition to the accreditation criteria and the establishment of IOAS as a reputable international accreditation body, there are a few other impacts that I would like to mention. 

IOAS was the first international organization to establish criteria for the organic certification of grower groups, based on implementation of functional Internal Control Systems. This brought consistency and credibility to grower groups and has allowed thousands of smallholders' access to the organic marketplace.

IOAS, along with Otto Schmidt from IFOAM, had a very strong influence on the content and adoption of the Codex International Organic Guidelines. IOAS was looked to by Codex delegates for guidance on certification systems, as well as on the content of the standards.

Inadvertently, IOAS is responsible for development of the IFOAM/IOIA International Organic Inspection Manual. During our board discussions, it became apparent that uniform and comprehensive training tools were needed for organic inspectors. Sampsa Heinonen, an IOAS board member from Finland, secured funding from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment for writing and publishing the Manual, which was released in 2000.

In January 2001 after being appointed to the USDA National Organic Standards Board, I ended my time on the IOAS board."

Jim's wife Joyce now serves on the IOAS Accreditation Committee.
IOAS developments and service improvements

IOAS recently asked our clients to complete a short survey providing feedback on the services provided by IOAS. As we strive to improve the quality and service IOAS provide, we really appreciate those that took the time to fill in the survey and both positive and negative feedback is greatly appreciated.

We are already working on a number of actions including NC reports issued at exit meetings, more staff appointments to improve response time and greater specialisation of assessors with the use of technical experts as well for geographical and cultural spread. We are also introducing a web portal for NC handling.

Over the last few years, we have also been amending our fee schedule, partly in response to changes resulting from the COVID pandemic but also making the fee schedule simpler, linked to ability to pay and paying more for work done directly instead of under a generic annual fee. With many schemes demanding more, we have been obliged to add time to assessments and differentiate between schemes. We plan to continue with this approach, continuously seeking fairness of approach and investment and improvement in our own service. 
IOAS personnel changes

We are happy to announce the appointment of Herman Van Boxem from Belgium to the IOAS Board. Herman has an extensive background in organic agriculture and after retiring from the EU Commission in June 2019 continues to have a keen interest in organic agriculture and in emerging agro-ecology in food, environmental and societal policies.

We also wish to express our thanks to Rikke Lundsgaard who is stepping down from the IOAS Board after many years. Her support and insight have been gratefully appreciated.

Along with this change we are saying a sad farewell at the end of the year to our Business Director Iris Rendon who has chosen to move on to new opportunities.

It is fair to say that the IOAS however is continuing to expand and that new job opportunities with the IOAS will become available in the New year so please keep an eye on our website.
EU Updates

Implementing Regulation EU 2022/2240, amending Regulations EU 2021/1378, EU 202/2119 and EU 2021/2307, in regard to issuance of main certificates and certificates of Inspection.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/2047 and  (EU) 2022/2049 correcting and amending of 24 October 2022 correcting and amending Annex 1 and  II of Regulation EU 2021/2325 as regards the recognition of certain control authorities and control bodies for the purpose of importing organic products into the Union.

GOTS updates

On 04 Nov 2022, GOTS released their CERTIFICATION AND OPERATING PARAMETERS FOR GOTS CERTIFIED GINS_V1.1 (updating v1.0 which had been released on 4th Oct 2022). To be implemented by CBs at the earliest opportunity for the 2022 cotton harvest and before 1 December 2022.
The new requirements include:

1. GOTS is introducing a compulsory farm-gin registry for all farms and farm groups whose certified raw material enters the GOTS system, including information on farm yields. The registry will be implemented progressively, starting in India.

2. Raw cotton is not allowed to travel more than 500 km from the farm to the certified gin. The shorter trade chain protects vulnerable points and optimises the process for buyers.  

3. Increase of unannounced audits of gins where there is a high perception of risk.

Textile Exchange Updates

Textile Exchange have released an updated Accepted Equivalent Standards Policy (ASR-106) V2.3.

This update provides clarification and additional flexibility relative to V2.2. Any GOTS transaction certificate which is issued prior to December 1, 2022 (i.e. on or before November 30) may be accepted as input for OCS products without the additional verification required by this policy. The mandatory date of December 1, 2022 remains.

On November 9th 2022 Textile Exchange published the updated CCS-201-v3.1 CCS User Manual on the Textile Exchange website.

CCS 3.1 replaces CCS 3.0 and is effective as of June 9, 2022. All audits and assessments conducted on or after July 1, 2022 shall be conducted using CCS 3.1 with the exception of brands. CCS certification of brands is effective April 1, 2023. See CCS-102-V3.0 CCS Certification Procedures, section A3.1.1 for more details.

Interesting publications and articles

IFOAM Organic Europe have published “Presence of pesticides in the environment, transition into organic food, and implications for quality assurance along the European organic food chain – A review.

The use of synthetic pesticides is not allowed in organic production, but traces of synthetic pesticides are regularly detected in organic food. To safeguard the integrity of organic production, organic certifiers are obliged to investigate the causes for pesticide residues on organic food, entailing high costs to the organic sector. Such residues can have various origins, including both fraud and unintentional contamination from the environment. Because the knowledge about contamination from environmental sources is scattered, this review provides an overview of pathways for unintentional and technically unavoidable contamination of organic food with synthetic pesticides in Europe.

The objective of this study is to show the environmental context in which organic farmers, producers and traders operate and to help build a fair approach for the handling of residues in organic products.

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