In December 2000, I joined the organic agriculture movement of the Philippines. Being an agriculturist it was easy for me to decide. My decision developed in over a week.

A female acquaintance came to me one night to engage my services in the documentation of the first national seminar-workshop on organic farming in the Philippines. It will take you a week of documentation and perhaps another week to write a book on the subject, she said. A week to write a book? That was a challenge.

Aims of the workshop

• Training of future inspection and certification staff

•  Providing background to understand the role of an organic certification program in a national and international context

•  Getting an overview of relevant standards, regulations, and actors

•  Sharing the know-how and experience of FiBL and Bio.inspecta in establishing certification structures (meanings of these acronyms are found below)

•  Conducting first inspections of organic farms aiming at certification

•  Preparing next steps of establishing a certification program

Frank Eyhorn and Stefan Schonenberg of Switzerland were resources persons who provided guidelines on the technical aspects of inspection and certification.

Developing a certification system in the Philippines

1. Objectives

The Philippines is in need of foreign assistance for the capacity building, enabling the country to set up a certification program which will, in a first instance, serve the local market, and in a second phase, be expanded to a Certification Program for export as well. National Basic Standards are already worked out.

The setting up of the Certification Program includes:

•  Development of an overall certification concept for the Philippines

•  Initial training for inspectors and training on the job (learning by doing)

•  Development of the documentation inspector’s manual, quality management handbook, checklists, list of sanctions, etc.)

Cooperation between institutions in the Philippines, Bio.inspecta and FiBL

  Setting up of a certification Program in the Philippines involves the cooperation between a local institution, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL in Frick, Switzerland) and the internationally accredited certifier Bio.inspecta (Frick, Switzerland). The aim is to set up the Certification

Stephan and Frank Eyhorn

(left) and Frank (right) were resource persons in this organic farming workshop

 

Program together and retire the participation from Frick step by step, and finally to hand over all inspection and certification activities to the Philippine Certification Program.

The role of FiBL in the setting up phase would be:

•  Development of an overall concept

•  Consulting the setting up phase

•  Initial training for inspectors

•  Development of the documentation together with partners from the Philippines Inspector’s manual, quality management handbook, checklists, list of sanctions, etc.)

•  Accompaniment, evaluation, and supervision of the Philippine Certification Program in the phase of international accreditation

The role of Bio.inspecta in the setting up phase would be:

•  Training of the inspectors on the job (accompany inspectors of Bio.inspecta during the inspections)

•  Responsibility for the inspections in the first 2 years

•  Responsibility for the certifications in the first 3-4 years

The role of the Philippine Certification Program in the setting up phase would be:

Step by step the inspection will be transferred to the Philippine Certification Program.

 

By December 31st, 2005, the Philippine Certification Program was fully responsible for all inspection and certification activities.

Inspection is on-site visit to verify that the performance of the farmer or operation is in accordance with specific organic farming standards.

Certification is the procedure that guarantees the fulfillment of the label regulations or of standards.

Accreditation ensures that production is according to standards. Examples of accreditation programs are the ISO 65, International Federations of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM), and the European Union Norm 47.

A certifier should give farmers guidance regarding the standards. He must not compromise on confidentiality, objectivity, and impartiality.

Documentation and recordkeeping must be done by all: farmer, inspection, certifying body, and accreditation agency.

The inspector should tell the farmer the aspects of farming where he was remiss or lacking. Grading of performance of the farmer is mutual between the farmer and inspector.

The farmer can file complaints and appeals with the certifying body.

Differences between the EU (European Union) regulation and the IFOAM Basic Standards

Conversion period

•  IFOAM: 12 months for annual, 18 months for perennial crops — may be extended when necessary

•  EU: 2 years for annual, three years for perennial crops — may be extended, if appropriate

Input of organic material

•  IFOAM: certification program shall set limits

•  EU: maximum 170 kg N/ha by manures from animals

Organic farming for stem cell therapy

We do not want stem cells polluted with insecticides, or herbicides, or molluscicides. These farm inputs are known to initiate tumor, cancer, heart disease, and other degenerative diseases.

We have to ensure that plants in stem cell therapy are produced in organic farms.

 

Conrado Fontanilla
Conrado has an extensive background in science. He has specialized in bridging the gap between scientists and consumers. He started out in agriculture, forestry and environment. Then he branched out into medical journalism owing to his desire to control his heart disease. In the present decade interest in stem cell research has emerged, stirring ethical issues around the use of embryonic stem cells. In 2006, it was discovered that adult cells like skin can be reprogrammed back to embryonic stem cells. Now, there is no more need to utilize an embryo as the source for stem cells. Recently it was found that nutritional supplements constitute a method in stem cell therapy. Conrado has contributed to the development of stem cell-organism theory and its application in medicine, particularly regenerative medicine.