The Organic Trade Association in Canada said it is pleased the amended Organic Products Regulations (OPR) will be published today (16 February) to enforce organic labelling on food products.

The regulations, to be published in the Canada Gazette (Part I), will come into effect on 30 June and follow a public comment period that involved a survey on the organic sector.

"The Canadian organic sector, including farmers, processors, certifiers, retailers and consumers, has been working diligently over the past year and a half to adjust its organic standards in time for this new regulation," said Matthew Holmes, managing director. "The Government of Canada has been a partner with us the entire way, and we are very excited to see this new regulation."

He added: "When these regulations come into effect this summer, consumers will have a clear idea of what organic is, and will know the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is monitoring and enforcing organic claims in the marketplace."

The OPR will ensure organic labelling on food products will be enforced and protected by the government, aligning Canada with its major trading partners and providing consumers with confidence in national standards in the rapidly expanding market, the trade association said.

The new regulations provide clarity on what products are covered by the current regulations, as well as a new organic logo. They also provide detailed provisions on organic imports and exports, including a possible equivalency agreement with Canada's major trading partners such as the US and Europe.

"Given the current economic climate, I think the Canadian government is sending a strong message to the international community that we're committed to fostering strong trade relationships," noted Holmes. "The organic sector is growing so fast that we need to make sure that we don't unintentionally introduce new barriers to trade, particularly now."

The new regulations include language allowing possible equivalency agreements with other regulated organic standards, as well as more flexible rules for Canadian farmers and manufacturers wishing to sell to export markets.