Harmonization and Equivalence

Among the foremost challenges to further development of Organic Agriculture is a labyrinth of regulatory requirements that deny market access to many organic producers, especially small producers in developing countries. 'IFOAM - Organics International' has worked for many years on the issue of harmonization and equivalence as a way to reduce technical barriers to organic trade.

Latest News

IFOAM - Organics International, IFOAM EU and their advocacy partner the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) in Brussels advocate against the EU Commission’s proposal to shift the EU organic import regime towards a compliance approach. The IFOAM & Fair Trade position maintains that an import regime based on equivalence would be the fairest, effective, and politically desirable system to ensure that developing country smallholders can retain market access to the EU, and that EU organic consumers and processors retain access to affordable organic tropical products and ingredients. Read more here.

You can also read about our ongoing advocacy work in the PDF icon OGS Courier

For details on our position, click here.

Tools of Facilitation

How do we help to facilitate harmonization and equivalence? After 10 years of international collaboration, three primary tools have been developed and promoted that can be used by anyone affiliated with a government or private sector organic label scheme. The tools help stakeholders to identify other organic standards and certification performance requirements that are equivalent to their own. 

The International Requirements for Organic Certification Bodies (IROCB)


The Guide for Assessing Equivalence of Standards and Technical Regulations (EquiTool)



Common Objectives and Requirements of Organic Standards (COROS) 
An Annex to the EquiTool

The IFOAM Family of Standards

IFOAM - Organics International itself uses the COROS as a reference to draw the line between credible organic and non-organic standards. See the IFOAM Family of Standards for more information. 

Policy Brief

Furthermore, IFOAM - Organics International provides advice to governments and national organic movements on standard development and on harmonization and equivalence issues. See the Policy Brief below for more information.

“How Governments can regulate imports of organic inputs
based on the concepts of harmonization and equivalence”.


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