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Non Governmental Certification Programs

Ed. Note: With so many non governmental certification labels, it has become confusing at times. While not inclusive, I compiled a list from Modern Farmer and Food Tank of ones that would apple to aquaculture.  Please note that non are mandatory. 


The USDA’s organic-certification system has been in place for 25 years and since then there have been numerous non-governmental label programs implemented.   

The Virginia-based nonprofit Humane Farm Animal Care certifies products that have come from facilities that allow farm animals to express their natural behaviors. Animal feed must be free of animal by-products, antibiotics, and growth hormones. 

The retailer’s in-house certification system, launched in 2014, grades products based on a series of metrics, including soil health; air, energy, and climate considerations; waste reduction; and farmworker welfare.

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM SEAFOOD WATCH                                                                        This San Francisco Bay Area-based program helps consumers and businesses make healthy choices for healthy oceans. Through a colored traffic light system, consumers can learn about seafood and sushi “best choices,” “good alternatives,” and products to “avoid.” Along with an online A-Z guide, there are downloadable consumer guides for each state as well as a mobile app.  Every six months, Seafood Watch scientists review journal articles, government reports, and contact fishery experts to update these guides.

Calling itself “the grassroots alternative to the USDA’s national organic program,” this Brooklyn nonprofit endorses farmers who have followed the standards for livestock and field crops set forth by the government. Farms are verified by peers, however, rather than by government inspectors.

Administered by a Bellingham, Washington–based nonprofit established in 2003, the label ensures that no more than .9 percent of a product is genetically modified plant material. The certification is verified by a third party. While products with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic Label must be  continued  GMO-free, the Non-GMO Project provides ongoing testing of ingredients at critical contamination points and also verifies conventional foods. Consumers can find products through the shopping guide app

INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR ORGANIC AGRICULTURE (IFOAM)                                          As an organization composed of 800 affiliates in more than 100 countries, IFOAM seeks to unite the organic movement worldwide. The IFOAM Organic Guarantee System improves transparency regarding different domestic organic standards while also acknowledging a need for diversity and local adaptation. It is based on a Family of Standards, the only tool set up to enable multilateral equivalence between technical regulations and organic certification agencies across continents.



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