The International Task Force on Harmonisation and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture was launched on 18 February 2003 in Nuremberg, Germany. A joint initiative of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UNCTAD, the Task Force will serve as an open-ended platform for dialogue between public, private and civil society bodies involved in trade and regulatory activities in the organic agriculture sector, in order to facilitate international trade.
It is a practical response to the difficulties faced by organic producers and exporters due to the hundreds of different organic regulations, standards and labels worldwide, and a follow-up to the recommendations of the Conference on International Harmonisation and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture. held by the three organizations in February 2002 (see TAD/INF/NC33).
At its first meeting, representatives of 10 countries (governments and certifiers), six international organizations, and civil society yesterday agreed on the Task Force terms of reference and a work plan for 2003. Work will commence with a review of the existing standards, regulations and conformity assessment systems and then move towards formulating concrete proposals on mechanisms for achieving harmonization and equivalence in the organic sector and means of facilitating access to organic markets, particularly by developing countries and smallholders.
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