Organic and biodynamic food production is founded on the principle of producing food in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible way, through soil regeneration, water conservation and animal welfare; and minimising the negative known or reasonably possible impacts.
Certification practices include:
- Avoiding the use of synthetic or artificially produced pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers or GMOs (genetically modified, transgenic organisms)
- Promoting biodiversity by growing a variety of crops
- Preventing soil erosion and improving soil quality
- Conserving energy
- Protecting wildlife, stream banks and watersheds
While many producers claim to use organic or biodynamic “principles” or “practices”, only a few have made the extra commitment required to gain and maintain certification. The certification of primary production land to organic or biodynamic status can take anywhere from 12 months to 36 months depending on prior history. Certified producers are subject to an annual audit by their certifying agency to ensure that the organic or biodynamic standards are maintained.
Unlike non-certified producers who claim to use organic or biodynamic principles, certified producers do not have the option to use non-approved inputs, such as fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides or GMOs. If they do, they risk losing their certification. For a consumer, the certification of an organic or biodynamic product signifies the integrity of that product.
In Australia, achieving organic or biodynamic certification requires meeting and maintaining the standards prescribed by one of Australia's five private certifiers, who base their certification standards on the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce published by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. All certifiers are accredited by DAWE. The five accredited certifiers for organic and bio-dynamic producers or processors in Australia are Australian Certified Organic (ACO), National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA), Southern Cross Certified (SXC), Australian DEMETER Bio-Dynamic (Demeter) and Aus-Qual. If you are interested in buying organic or biodynamic products, you should look for the logo of the certifier on the product, to verify that the product is certified.