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Variation in Organic Standards Prior to the National Organic Program

  • T. Robert Fetter
  • Julie A. Caswell

Interest in establishing nationally uniform certification, labeling, and management standards for organic products grew out of concern that the existence of multiple standards led to consumer and supply chain confusion about, and lack of confidence in, these products. The National Organic Program Final Rule, issued in December 2000, is the result of this interest. We analyze the certification system that was in place prior to the new national rule to evaluate the extent of differences between certification standards and how the national rule is likely to impact the market for organic products. Our analysis suggests that most differences among US certification standards were minor. Also, the most important impacts of the national standard may be in facilitating trade in ingredients and products certified by different certifiers, increasing buyer confidence, and facilitating exports. However, the national rule may decrease the ability of organic certifiers and consumers to place differing emphasis on the multiple goals of organic production and may decrease the flexibility of organic standards to respond to changing market conditions, including new technologies.

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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy in its series Food Marketing Policy Center Research Reports with number 072.

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Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zwi:fpcrep:072
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