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Stackyard News Feb 05

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Soil AssociationOrganic farmers warned about imposter products

Organic farmers and growers are being warned to look out for products that are falsely marketed as suitable for use on organic farms.

The Soil Association - the UK's main certifier and promoter of organic food - is aware that some companies are falsely claiming that their products are approved for use on organic farms. The warning concerns inputs such as products to control pest and disease as well as composts and supplementary nutrients.

Some products are being marketed as suitable for organic farms even though they contain materials that are prohibited under organic standards. Others are falsely marketed as approved for use in organic systems by the Soil Association, when no approval has been granted.

Examples include a company that actively marketed a 'natural herbicide' as suitable for use in organic systems even though herbicides are prohibited under European organic law. In another case, a pest and disease product was sold for use in organic systems when it was not even registered with the Pesticides Safety Directorate.

"This type of marketing practice is unacceptable. We will seek legal advice on behalf of our members if necessary. We may have to make public the names of companies who persist in making false claims," says Phil Stocker, head of agriculture at the Soil Association.

Soil Association Certification Ltd (SA Cert) operates a product certification and verification service for inputs used in organic systems. The organisation can fully assess any product submitted to us by a manufacturer to ensure it is suitable for use in organic systems. This offers organic farmers and growers a credible guarantee of the integrity of any input, and the manufacturer the chance to market with integrity.

The Soil Association is urging organic producers to check with manufacturers or suppliers that the product is permitted for use on organic farms. Any company with a product that is legitimately certified by the Soil Association will be able to give details of their licence to anyone making an enquiry. If there is any doubt, farmers are advised to check with their certification body or call the Soil Association on 0117 314 5000. Companies who would like information about the organisation's product certification and verification service are also encouraged to call.

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