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Korea Organic Regulations

Update on the Korea Organic Certification and Labeling

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Korea Extends Implementation of Organic Processed Foods Regulation

On December 31, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) published its final revision to the Labeling Guidelines for Food Products, which included an extension of the labeling standard for organic processed food products until December 31, 2010. This was the last regulatory change necessary to finalize the one-year extension. The new MIFAFF regulation was to be fully implemented on January 1, 2010 and would replace the KFDA labeling guideline for organic products. The United States and several other organic exporting countries encouraged Korea to extend the deadline in order for certifiers to become accredited to the new regulation, and to work with MIFAFF to add language to the regulation to allow for recognition of foreign accrediting bodies and equivalence to foreign standards.

 

The effect of this decision is that for 2010 The Republic of Korea (ROK) will operate under two Organic Labeling systems.  The new KDFA regulation is in place for operators who comply with it and, for 2010, organic products such as NOP certified can continue to be imported as before. 

OTCO clients exporting to Korea should see no difference in regulation or procedures.

 

Despite this concession the KDFA seems determined to require all certifiers to become accredited to their regulation although international organic and agricultural organizations will continue to work toward some sort of recognition or equivalency agreement.

 

As written there are some significant challenges with the Korean regulations, which will prevent organic products from entering the Korean market when they take effect.

  • Korean regulations include extensive mandatory product testing with zero tolerance for all prohibited materials including GMOs
  • Every ingredient must be certified to their regulations back to the farm.
  • The cost of accreditation is expected to exceed $30,000 and includes training staff in Korea and hosting Korean auditors.


OTCO has decided not to becoming accredited at this time choosing instead to continue to join negotiation efforts for short and long term remedies including:

  • A Recognition agreement similar to Japan or Taiwan.
or
  • An Equivalency Agreement similar to Canada.

 
We have been involved with this process for some time and are optimistic that as the deadline approaches these or other suitable solutions will be found. There continues to be activity from several directions gently applying pressure on the ROK to negotiate a compromise.  The US Trade Representatives, US Foreign Ag.  Service, USDA/National Organic Program, Organic Trade Association, World Trade Organization and the organic programs of Canada, Australia and the European Union are all trying to promulgate an amicable solution.

For further discussion and or questions contact Oregon Tilth.

USDA Foreign Ag Service GAIN Report:  Overview of the organic marketplace in Korea (PDF)

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