|PGS FAQs - PGS and Markets|
Can products from PGS be labeled as organic?
It depends on the country. Organic is an internationally recognized system of production. At this time, however, some countries have legislation that limits the use of the term only to those operations that have gone through a specified system of certification. In some countries (including US, EU, Japan) the system of certification is limited to third party certification. In other countries it includes both PGS or Third Party systems of certification (Brazil, Bolivia, New Zealand). Many countries don’t have legislation one way or the other (Australia, India for domestic organic products).
How are PGS Certified Organic products identified?
All PGS Farmers receive a certificate they can use to show their PGS Certified Organic status. In addition, many programs allow the use of the PGS logo on stickers or stamps. In some countries, including India and the United States, PGS Certified farmers are listed on the internet and in India they are available through a novel SMS text messaging system linked to labels available on PGS products at the point of sale.
Will PGS Farmers be able to export their products? Will they be recognized in other countries?
The focus of PGS is to encourage local and direct relationships between farmers and consumers. Generally, exporting is done on a larger scale farms and over great distances where both the farmer and consumer become anonymous. Third Party Certification programs have already included mechanisms to deal effectively with those situations. That being said, neighboring countries have forged relationships with each other to facilitate trade in PGS products to a limited extent. In Brazil, it is estimated that 20% of PGS Certified Organic products are sold outside the country.
What happens when supermarkets, processors or other anonymous distribution channels want PGS products and there is no direct consumer involvement? Can PGS still work?
Third Party Certification mechanisms were created within the context of a need to provide auditable security for large processors and markets buying anonymous organic products on the open market. PGS Programs, on the other hand, arose out of a different context – the need to provide affordable and inclusive quality assurance to small-holder farmers selling locally and more directly. As a result, the two systems compliment each other quite well, so in general, farmers selling into anonymous distribution channels would be better served using a Third Party Certification approach rather than PGS.
That being said, there are situations where PGS products could be successfully sold to large supermarkets, but the chain of custody needs to be tightly controlled. For example, a supermarket chain in the US is interested in carrying PGS certified products, but the products are to be sourced only from local farmers and are highlighted as such on the store shelves.
Likewise, PGS certification doesn’t necessary exclude value added or processing in situations of closed sourcing. For example, a juice company producing a brand of orange juice sourced directly from a regional group of PGS Certified farmers, processed, bottled, boxed and labeled as such could be an attractive and quality assured product that is finally sold on a distant supermarket shelf.
How do you keep store-owners and retailers from selling fraudulently labeled PGS Organic products?
While there are cooperatively run shops that only sell PGS Organic products (as well as Third Party Certified Organic shops) such outlets are the minority, and most small retailers sell a diversity of products that could conceivably be misrepresented by an unscrupulous shopkeeper. In such a case, most countries already have consumer protection laws (or “Fair Trading Acts”) to deal with conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive consumers.
What international support exists for the PGS model?
International organizations including IFOAM, MAELA, UN-FAO, and the Latin American PGS Group have all been explicitly and proactively supportive of the need for PGS programs as an alternative means for small-holder farmers to enter a system of committed organic production and to provide more consumers with quality assured organic products.
More recently the International Task Force on Harmonization stated the need for consideration of Participatory Guarantee Systems as a means of Organic quality assurance. Many international third party certification agencies are also looking at PGS programs as potential partners especially as a way to strengthen ICS programs or to reach out to a greater number of farmers that might be interested in access to international or processing markets.
|IFOAM - International Federation of Organic Agriculture | firstname.lastname@example.org|