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2020 Canadian Organic Standards pass final vote

After the publication of the 2020 Standards in November, operators have one year to adjust their practices to comply with the revised requirements. 

June 18, 2020  By Fruit and Vegetable

The Canadian Organic Standards are updated every five years to respond to changes within and outside the sector.

All members of the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) Committee on Organic Agriculture voted yes on the revised drafted of the Canadian Organic Standards on June 10, 2020.

Every five years, the Canadian Organic Standards (COS) are reviewed to clarify standards that were causing confusion, to respond to changes within and outside the sector, and to conform with best practices from trading partners such as the United States and the European Union.

The unanimous vote means that the draft of the COS submitted to the vote will be referenced by the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations when it is published by CGSB this fall. The proposed publication date of the new standards is set for November 2020.


The voting members also submitted 166 comments, according to The Organic Federation of Canada (OFC). Most relate to wording or suggest practices to be reviewed during the 2025 revision work, and all comments need to be addressed.

“The OFC is pleased with the unanimous vote of the voting members; the 706 comments received during the public review conducted in the summer of 2019 certainly helped to resolve many ambiguities and build consensus on the most contentious issues. The OFC has published numerous articles on the controversial issues that have fuelled the working groups’ discussions; some of these issues will likely return in the 2025 round of review work,” the OFC update read.

The Organic Council of Ontario also weighed in on the significance of the vote. “This final vote marks the culmination of two years of work by members of the Technical Committee and working groups, who analyzed change requests and hundreds of public comments, as well as recommending best ecological practices in Canadian organic production,” OCO wrote.

The OFC is preparing webinars that will outline the changes to the Standards. After the publication of the 2020 Standards, operators have one year to adjust their practices to comply with the revised requirements.

Tom Piekarski, policy and research coordinator for the Organic Council of Ontario, wrote about what matters in the Organic Standards Review to fruit and vegetable growers earlier this year. While most revisions to the COS have been definitional, several discussions took place on parallel production – which impacts farmers transitioning to organic – and whether or not 100 per cent artificial light would be accepted as an organic practice.

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