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Asia Regional Organic Standard (AROS)

The Asia Regional Organic Standard (AROS) was developed by a public-private partnership of stakeholders in East, South-East and South Asia under the auspices of the GOMA project.
Copyright © 2012 UNCTAD, FAO & IFOAM
ISBN-13: 978-3-940946-95-9
Print version

1 Introduction

1.1 Asia Regional Organic Standards (AROS)
1.2 AROS Scope and Objectives
1.3 Asian Organic Farming and Trade
1.4 Normative References
1.5 Terms and Definitions
1.6 Acronyms

Whole Introduction as PDF-Document:

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Introduction of AROS Download

1.5 Terms and Definitions


Additive: A substance that is added to a processed product for a technological purpose and becomes a component of the final product and/or affects its characteristics.
Barrier: An obstruction that prevents or hinders the movement of prohibited substances from an adjacent area over it or through it.
Biodegradable inputs: Inputs composed of natural materials capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other biological means and includes – compost, green manures, plant and animal waste.
Biodiversity: The variety of life forms and ecosystem types on Earth. Includes genetic diversity (i.e. diversity within species), species diversity (i.e. the number and variety of species) and ecosystem diversity (total number of ecosystem types).
Breeding: Selection of plants or animals to reproduce and / or to further develop desired characteristics in succeeding generations.
Buffer Zone: A clearly defined and identifiable boundary area bordering an organic production site that is established to limit application of, or contact with, rohibited substances from an adjacent area.
Carcinogens: Any natural or artificial substance that can produce or trigger cancer.
Certification: The procedure by which an operator or a group of operators received written and reliably endorsed assurance that a clearly identified process has been methodically applied in order to assess that the operator is producing specified products according to specific requirements or standards.
Certification Body: The body that conducts certification, as distinct from standard-setting and inspection.
Contamination: Contact of organic crops, animals, land or products with any substance that would compromise the organic integrity.
Conventional: Any production or processing practice or system that does not conform to organic production practices and standards.
Conversion: The time of transition from non-organic to organic farming.
Conversion Period: The time between the start of the organic management and the certification of crops and animal husbandry as organic.
Crop Rotation: The practice of alternating the species or families of annual and/or biennial crops grown on a specific field in a planned pattern or sequence so as to break weed, pest and disease cycles and to maintain or improve soil fertility and organic matter content.
Disinfecting: To reduce, by physical or chemical means, the number of potentially harmful microorganisms in the environment, to a level that does not compromise food safety or suitability.
Exception: Permission granted to an operator by a certification body to be excluded from the need to comply with restricted requirements of the standards. Exceptions are granted on the basis of clear criteria, with clear justification and for a limited time period only.
Factory Farming: Industrial management systems that are heavily reliant on veterinary and feed inputs not permitted in organic agriculture.
Farm Unit or Holding: The total area of land under control of one farmer or collective of farmers, and including all the farming activities or enterprises. The farm holding may consist of one or more farm units.
Food Additive: An enrichment, supplement or other substance which can be added to a foodstuff to affect its keeping quality, consistency, color, taste, smell or other technical property (for full definition, see Codex Alimentarius).
Genetic Diversity: Genetic diversity means the variability among living organisms from agricultural, forest and aquatic ecosystems; this includes diversity within species and between species.
Genetic Engineering: Genetic engineering is a set of techniques from molecular biology (such as recombinant DNA) by which the genetic material of plants, animals, microorganisms, cells and other biological units are altered in ways or with results that could not be obtained by methods of natural mating and reproduction or natural recombination. Techniques of genetic modification include, but are not limited to: recombinant DNA, cell fusion, micro and macro injection, encapsulation, gene deletion and doubling. Genetically engineered organisms do not include organisms resulting from techniques
such as conjugation, transduction and natural hybridization.
Genetically Modified Organism (GMO): A plant, animal, or microbe that is transformed by genetic engineering.
GMO Derivative: A substance that is produced by or from a GMO. This is traced one step back from the substance to its source. ‘Produced from GMO’ means that it consists in whole or in part of a GMO. ‘Produced by GMO’ means that it is a GMO metabolite.
Green Manure: A crop that is grown and then incorporated into the soil for the purpose of soil improvement, prevention of erosion, prevention of nutrient loss, mobilization and accumulation of plant nutrients, and balancing soil organic matter. Green manure may include spontaneous crops, plants or weeds.
Habitat: The area over which a plant or animal species naturally exists. Also used to indicate types of habitat, e.g. ocean, seashore, riverbank, woodland, grassland.
Handling: Manual or mechanical carrying, moving, delivering or working with something.
High Conservation Value Areas: Areas that have been identified as having outstanding and critical importance due to their environmental, cultural, socioeconomic, biodiversity or landscape values.
Homeopathic Treatment: Treatment of disease based on administration of remedies prepared through successive dilutions of a substance that in higher concentration produces symptoms in healthy subjects similar to those of the disease itself.
Hydroponic Systems: Crop production systems in inert media or water using dissociated nutrients as the prime source of nutrient supply.
Ingredient: Any substance, including an additive, used in the manufacture or preparation of a product and present in the final product although possibly in a modified form.
Irradiation: Technology using high-energy emissions from radio-nucleotides, capable of altering a product’s molecular structure for the purpose of controlling microbial contaminants, pathogens, parasites and pests in products (generally food), preserving products or inhibiting physiological processes such as
sprouting or ripening. (Also referred to as ionizing radiation although definitions of this term in technical and legal texts vary.) Irradiation does not include low-level radiation sources such as the use of X rays for foreign body detection.
Isolated Nutrients: Individual and separate forms of nutrients.
Label: Any written, printed or graphic representation that is present on a product, accompanies the product, or is displayed near the product.
Media (plural) or Medium (singular): The substance in which an organism, tissue, or organ exists.
Mutagens: A substance or agent that can induce genetic mutation.
Neurotoxins: A toxin that damages or destroys nerve tissue.
Operation: For the purposes of this document an operation is an individual or business enterprise producing, processing or handling agricultural products.
Organic Agriculture: A production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.
Organic Integrity: Adherence to the principles, objectives and standards for organic production.
Organic Product: A product that has been produced, processed, or handled in compliance with organic standards.
Organic Quality: Produced according to organic standards.
Parallel Production: A situation where the same operation is producing visually indistinguishable products in both an organic system and a non-organic system. A situation with “organic” and “in conversion” production of the same product may also be parallel production.
Plant Genetic Integrity: Maintaining plant varieties to ensure that they remain pure, true to type and not contaminated by other varieties.
Peat: Partially carbonized vegetable matter, usually mosses, found in bogs and used as fertilizer and fuel
Processing: The handling, treatment, transformation or packaging of agricultural or wild collected products.
Processing Aid: Any substance or material, not including apparatus or utensils, and not consumed as a food ingredient by itself, intentionally used in the processing of raw materials, foods or its ingredients, to fulfill a certain technical purpose during treatment or processing and which may result in the nonintentional, but unavoidable presence of residues or derivatives in the final product.
Restrict: Limit a practice, generally to conditions under which it may be used.
Sanitizing: Any treatment that is effective in destroying or substantially reducing the numbers of vegetative cells of microorganisms of public health concern, and other undesirable microorganisms.
Soil Biodiversity: The variety of all living organisms found within the soil system and includes microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi as well as mega fauna such as earthworms and mites.
Split Production: Conventional, in conversion and/or organic production, breeding, handling or processing in the same operation.
Synthetic: A substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plant, animal, or mineral sources.
Substances created by naturally occurring biological processes are not considered synthetic.
Standards: Norms that specify how a product should be produced and processed. For the purposes of  this document standards are used to define organic production practices.
Supply Chain: A system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from a supplier to a customer.
Sustainable: Use of a resource in such a way that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged, hence is not used faster than it can be regenerated.
Traditional agriculture: An indigenous form of farming based on knowledge generated, preserved and transmitted between generations and may exhibit a high level of understanding of local resources, social and environmental conditions.
Teratogens: Any agent that interferes with normal embryonic development
Wild Harvest: The collection, taking or gathering of products from a site that is not maintained under cultivation or other agricultural management.

2.0 General Requirements for Organic Production and Processing


2.1 Ecosystem Management

 

Objectives

All farming systems ensure the long-term management and resilience of an organic farm holding by respecting, maintaining, improving and completing ecological cycles and the quality of ecosystems and the landscape

Requirements


2.1.1) Organic management maintains and / or enhances biodiversity on the farm holding, in crop and where applicable non-crop habitats. Examples of biodiversity enhancement strategies include the use of crop rotation, multiple cropping, green manuring, hedgerow plantings and border crops.
2.1.2) Organic management does not undertake any actions that create any negative impacts in officially recognised high conservation value and heritage areas- such as forests wildlife protection areas and watershed areas.

2.2 Soil and Water Management


Objectives

Organic production systems conserve and improve the soil, maintain both ground and surface water quality and use water efficiently and responsibly. Risks of environmental pollution are identified and minimised.

Requirements


2.2.1) Organic crop production systems conserve or improve soil physical, chemical and biological properties including; organic matter, fertility and soil biodiversity.
2.2.2) Organic crop production systems enhance soil primarily by employing cultural management practices, incorporating manures and other biodegradable inputs, and/ or by nitrogen fixation from plants.
2.2.3) Soil fertility management employs measures to recycle organic materials within the production system where possible such as green manuring and composting.
2.2.4) Land clearing and preparation by burning vegetation is prohibited except where it is part of an established and well managed traditional management practice e.g. slash and burn shifting cultivation where it is to be restricted to a minimum.
2.2.5) Organic crop production systems employ measures to prevent land degradation, such as erosion, salinization and other related risks to soil loss and degradation.
2.2.6) Organic management ensures that water resources are used efficiently to meet farm production requirements with strategies established to optimise water use and prevent wastage.
2.2.7) Organic management prevents pollution of the environment and preserves the quality of land and water.

2.3 Avoiding Contamination


Objectives

Organic management strictly limits the use of synthetic inputs at all stages of the organic production/supply chain and exposure of people and the environment to persistent, potentially harmful chemicals. It minimizes pollution and degradation of the production/processing unit and surrounding environment from production/processing activities. It also excludes certain unproven, unnatural and harmful technologies from the system.

Requirements


2.3.1) Organic management takes precautionary measures to avoid contamination that could affect the organic integrity of the supply chain. Precautionary measures may include barriers/buffer zones in production, cleaning of farm equipment, use of dedicated facilities and equipment and cleaning in processing.
2.3.2) Organic management actively addresses risks of contamination. Where there is reasonable suspicion of contamination, efforts shall be made to identify and address the source of contamination.
2.3.3) Organic management systems do not use genetically modified organisms (GMO) or their derivatives, in all stages of organic production and processing.
2.3.4) Organic management systems restrict the use of non-bio-degradable coverings and mulches.

2.4 Wild Harvested Products and Common/Public Land Management


Objectives

The harvesting of products from wild or common land areas is undertaken sustainably, does not use prohibited inputs or practices and ensures products are not contaminated.

Requirements


2.4.1) Organic wild harvest management ensures that harvesting does not exceed the sustainable yield of the harvested species or otherwise threaten the local ecosystem.
2.4.2) Organic operators harvest products only from within the boundaries of the clearly defined wild harvest area.
2.4.3) Organic wild harvest management excludes systems that harvest officially protected or endangered species.
2.4.4) Wild harvest areas are at an appropriate distance from conventional farming, pollution and other potential sources of contamination.

2.5 Conversion Requirements


Objectives

Conversion to organic production requires a period of time in which healthy soils, sustainable ecosystems are established and contaminants reduced before it can achieve certified organic status.

Requirements


2.5.1) There shall be a period of at least 12 months organic management for annuals and 18 months for perennials that meets all the requirements of these standards before the resulting product can be considered organic. The conversion period can be extended based on the identification and evaluation of relevant issues and risks.
An exemption to this requirement may be approved where there is a verifiable record of the unbroken use of traditional agriculture practices with no use of non-permitted inputs or activities.
2.5.2) The start of the conversion period shall be calculated from the date of the documented start of organic management.

2.6 Split Production and Parallel Production


Objectives

The integrity of an organic farm unit is not compromised by the activities and management of nonorganic operations undertaken on the same farm.

Requirements


2.6.1) Organic management completely and clearly separates the non-organic and organic parts and products of holdings with split or parallel production, e.g. through physical barriers; management practices such as the production of different varieties or the timing of harvest; storage of inputs and products.

2.7 Maintenance of Organic Management


Objectives

Organic production systems require a commitment to the use of organic production practices.

Requirement

2.7.1) Organic management does not rely upon switching back and forth between organic and conventional management. Exceptions to this may only be made in cases where compelling reasons to cease organic management on the certified organic land are present and in these cases conversion requirements apply.

3.0 Crop Production Management Systems


3.1 Choice of Crops and Varieties


Objectives

Appropriate crops and varieties are grown to suit local conditions. The organic integrity of crops is maintained in production.

Requirements


3.1.1) Operators are encouraged to preserve the plant genetic integrity of varieties and traditional ecotypes. As an example the use of locally sourced or native varieties is encouraged while the use of GMO varieties is prohibited.
3.1.2) Organic crop production uses seed and planting materials that are of organic quality unless such seed and materials is unavailable.
3.1.3) Organic crop production systems use untreated seeds and planting materials whenever available. If treated, they are treated only with substances that are listed in Appendix 2 unless treatment with other substances is required or unless seed and planting material not treated with these other substances is unavailable. In these situations any prohibited chemical treatment shall be removed from the seeds or planting materials before use. Exemptions are limited in time or subject to review.

Attachments

Title Abstract Actions
Crop Protectants, Growth Regulators and Seed Treatments Substances Description, Compositional Requirements and Conditions for Use Download

3.2 Diversity in Crop Production


Objectives

The selection of crop species and varieties is based on an understanding of their adaptation to local conditions, pests and diseases and the broader ecological relationships present in healthy farming systems. Organic crop production systems produce terrestrial crops in soil-based systems.

Requirements


3.2.1) Organic crop production includes the use of diverse plantings as an integral part of the farm management system. For perennial crops, this includes the use of plant-based ground cover. For annual crops, this includes the use of crop rotation practices, cover crops (green manures), integrated crop management, intercropping or other diverse plant production with comparable achievements.
3.2.2) Organic crop production systems produce terrestrial crops in soil-based systems.

3.3 Soil Fertility and Fertilization


Objectives

Soil fertility management nourishes plants primarily through the soil ecosystem and achieves nutrient balance.

Requirements

3.3.1) Organic soil fertility management uses only naturally occurring mineral fertilizers and only as a supplement to biologically-based fertility methods such as green manures and compost.
3.3.2) Organic soil fertility management uses only crop fertility substances that are listed in Appendix 1.
3.3.3) Organic soil fertility management does not use
  • Synthetic fertilizers;
  •  Fertilizers made soluble by chemical methods, e.g. superphosphates.
3.3.4) Organic soil fertility management does not use human excrement on leafy, tuber or root crops.
Where it is used in other crops it will not come into contact with the edible parts of a crop and measures are established to protect humans from pathogens for example through composting or fermentation as listed in Appendix 1.

3.4 Pest, Disease, Weed and Growth Management


Objectives

Crop production management systems promote and sustain the health of crops while maintaining productivity and the integrity of the agro-ecosystem.

Requirements


3.4.1) Organic crop production management employs interrelated positive processes and mechanisms for the management of pests, diseases, and weeds. These include but are not limited to site and crop adapted fertility management and soil tillage, crop cultural practices, choice of appropriate varieties, enhancement of functional biodiversity e.g. planting host plants for beneficial insects, mulching to control weeds. In case additional measures are required, thermal controls and the use of crop protectants and growth regulators are permitted (see 3.4.2).
3.4.2) Organic crop production uses only active substances for pest/disease/growth management that are listed in Appendix 2.
3.4.3) Organic crop production ensures that co-formulants (e.g. inerts and synergists) in formulated farm production input products are not carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens or neurotoxins.c crop production ensures that co-formulants (e.g. inerts and synergists) in formulated farm

3.5 Post Harvest Management


Objectives

On farm post harvest management maintains the organic integrity of organic products.

Requirements


3.5.1) On-farm post harvest management takes measures to prevent contamination and co-mingling of organic products with non-organic products in processing, handling, packaging, storage and transport for example in the threshing, peeling, hulling, cleaning, cooling, cutting, drying and packing of products.

4.0 Processing and Handling


4.1 General


Objectives

Processing and handling management systems maintain the organic integrity of organic products.

Requirements


4.1.1) Organic processing management takes measures to prevent contamination and co-mingling of organic products with non-organic products in processing, handling, packaging, storage and transport. For example – the transportation of organic and non-organic products can only occur if adequate measures are in place to prevent mixing or contamination such as the products having different labeling and separate handling practices.

4.2 Ingredients


Objectives

Organic processed products are made from organic ingredients

Requirements


4.2.1) Organic processing uses only organic ingredients except for when they are not available and subject to the labeling requirements in section 5. The same ingredient in a product shall not be derived from both an organic and a non-organic source.
4.2.2) Organic processing only uses minerals (including trace elements), vitamins, essential fatty, amino acids, and other isolated nutrients when their use is legally required or strongly recommended by the competent authority, in the food products in which they are incorporated.

4.3 Processing Methods


Objectives

Organic food is processed by biological, mechanical or physical processing techniques.

Requirements


4.3.1) For food and feed production, organic processing uses only processing methods that are biological, mechanical and physical in nature such as hulling, milling, fermentation, grinding, pressing and dehydration
4.3.2) Organic processing uses only additives, processing aids, other substances that modify organic products and solvents used for extraction if they that are listed in Appendix 3 and 4.
4.3.3) Organic processing does not use irradiation (ionizing radiation) technologies
4.3.4) Filtration techniques used in organic processing do not chemically react with or modify the product at the molecular level.

4.4 Pest and Disease Control


Objectives

During processing, storage and handling – organic products are protected from pests and diseases without compromising the organic integrity of the product.

Requirements


4.4.1) Organic processing management systems control pests according to a hierarchy of practices starting with prevention, and then physical, mechanical, biological methods and substances that are in Appendix 4. Pest and disease control examples include the use of physical barriers, sound, ultra-sound, light and UV-light, traps (including pheromone traps), temperature control, controlled atmosphere and diatomaceous earth. Where these practices are not effective, and other substances are used, they do not come into contact with the organic product.

4.5 Packaging


Objectives

Packaging and storage/transportation containers do not contaminate the organic product they contain.

Requirements


4.5.1) The packaging, storage and transportation containers used for organic products do not contaminate the organic product. For example – packaging materials or storage containers that contain a synthetic fungicide, preservative or fumigant are prohibited as is the use of reused bags or containers that have been in contact with any substance likely to compromise the organic integrity of a product or ingredient placed in those containers.

4.6 Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizing of Food Processing Facilities


Objectives

Cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing of food processing facilities does not contaminate organic products.

Requirements


4.6.1) Organic processing restricts disinfecting and sanitizing substances that may come in contact with organic products to water and substances that are listed in Appendix 5. In cases where these substances are ineffective and others must be used, these other substances must not come into contact with any organic products.
4.6.2) Organic processing restricts disinfecting and sanitizing substances that may come in contact with organic products to water and substances that are listed in Appendix 5. In cases where these substances are ineffective and others must be used, these other substances must not come into contact with any organic products.

5.0 Labelling


5.1 General


Objectives

Labeling clearly identifies organic products and provides relevant information for consumers to make informed, conscious choices and to avoid misleading them.

Requirements


5.1.1) Labeling fully discloses ingredients in the order of their weight percentages and whether or not they are organic. As an exemption - if herbs and/or spices constitute less than 2 % of the total weight of the product, they may be listed as “spices” or “herbs”.
5.1.2) Labeling identifies the entity legally responsible for the product and the body that assures conformity to the applicable organic standard.
5.1.3) Claims that processed products are “organic” are made only if the product contains at least 95% organic ingredients (by weight for solids or by volume for liquids- excluding water and salt). The nonorganic ingredients shall not be genetically modified, irradiated or treated with processing aids not listed in Appendix 4.
5.1.4) Claims that processed products are “made with organic ingredients” or similar terms are made only if the product contains at least 70% organic ingredients (by weight for solids or by volume for liquids - excluding water and salt).
5.1.5) Labeling does not make “organic” or “made with organic ingredients" or similar terms, or make any organic certification claims on products with less than 70% organic ingredients (by weight for solids or by volume for liquids- excluding water and salt), although “organic” may be used to characterize ingredients on the list of ingredients.)
5.1.6) Labeling clearly distinguishes in-conversion products or similar terms from organic products.
Labelling ensure that products labeled as “organic” or “in-conversion”, or an equivalent term (e.g. biologic or ecological), comply with the applicable organic standards.

Appendices

These appendices detail approved inputs that can be used in the production and processing of organic food. The lists are based on the lists from the IFOAM Norms ver 2005 and the Codex Alimentarius Organic Guidelines.
Any amendment to these appendices needs to be based on the criteria detailed in Section 5. Requirements for Inclusion of Substances in Annex 2 and Criteria for the Development of Lists of Substances by Countries – of the Codex Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods (GL32-1999). Any updates made to the Codex Guideline lists can also be adopted for this Standard based on the review and agreement of the designated competent authority with established governance over this Standard.
The use of any input listed in these appendices is subject to recognition by and agreement of the relevant certification body or authority.

Appendix 1: Fertilizers and Soil Conditioners


Attachments

Title Abstract Actions
Fertilizers and Soil Conditioners Substances Description, Compositional Requirements and Conditions for Use Download

Appendix 2: Crop Protectants, Growth Regulators and Seed Treatments


Attachments

Title Abstract Actions
Crop Protectants, Growth Regulators and Seed Treatments Substances Description, Compositional Requirements and Conditions for Use Download

Appendix 3: List of Approved Additives


Attachments

Title Abstract Actions
List of Approved Additives Additives permitted for use under specifi ed conditions in certain organic food categories or individual food items. Download

Appendix 4: Processing Aids Which May be Used For The Preparation Of Products Of Agricultural Origin

 

Attachments

Title Abstract Actions
Processing Aids Processing Aids Which May be Used For The Preparation Of Products Of Agricultural Origin, Substances and Specific conditions Download

Appendix 5: Indicative List of Equipment Cleansers And Equipment Disinfectants That May Come Into Direct Contact With Food

 

Attachments

Title Abstract Actions
Indicative List of Equipment Cleansers And Equipment Disinfectants Indicative List of Equipment Cleansers And Equipment Disinfectants That May Come Into Direct Contact With Food Download