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New Zealand Government Media Release
9 March 2000
Exporting of organic foods to the European Union will be assisted by the granting of accreditation to AgriQuality New Zealand, Agriculture and Trade Negotiations Minister, Jim Sutton, said today. "This is an important step towards establishment of an official organic certification programme," he said.
Certenz, AgriQuality NZ's certification business, has been awarded ISO/IEC Guide 65 accreditation. Organic food exports to EU markets must meet production standards audited by an agency with this accreditation.
"Exports of organic foods are becoming increasingly important to New Zealand, and Certenz's accreditation opens another door for our producers," Mr Sutton said.
"The demand for organic NZ products continues to rise as markets grow around the world, and we need to keep developing and exploiting that demand to the fullest extent possible."
Mr Sutton said New Zealand supported the need for importing countries to assure themselves that organic foods were genuinely organic and not just something with an "organic" label stuck on it.
"We want the same protection for our consumers, but we also need to be on guard against possible use of organic certification requirements as trade barriers. This underlines the importance of the use of such internationally recognised standards as ISO/ISE Guide 65," he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Food Assurance Authority was developing an official organic certification programme for organic produce exported to the EU, and Mr Sutton hoped it would be introduced in early 2001.
"Certenz, along with similar bodies, such as Bio-Gro New Zealand, will play an important role in MAF's certification programme," he said.