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Do international reference standards exist?
Yes, the Codex Alimentarius, published by FAO under UN auspices, is used by the organic agri-food community as a reference standard. These are international standards and they apply to all stages of the production chain, from the farm to the store shelf.
What are the differences between the Quebec, Canada, American and European organic standards?
The Québec and Canada standards have similar requirements. An undergoing harmonization process will enable certification to both standards for operators without problems.
American standards include lower and upper limits, thus they define both minimum and maximum standards. For example in their particular approach, input lists include both prohibited natural products and authorized synthetic products. Finally, these labeling rules different from those in practice elsewhere in the world
In general, European standards are more detailed than those in Québec, Canada or the USA, particularly at the livestock production and the environmental levels.
The document Overview of Organic Certification and National Organic Standards Applied Worldwide published by the CEAQ helps to identify these differences.