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First Ever National Initiative to Establish Sustainable Agriculture Standard (SCS-001) Enters Next Important Phase

Submitted by: SCS Global Services

Categories: Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Aug 14, 2008 – 03:00 PM EST

 

Wide Cross-Section of Stakeholders to Develop ANSI Standard

EMERYVILLE,CA. - August 14, 2008 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process to develop a national standard for sustainable agriculture will take another important step forward this September as the newly formed Standards Committee meets to establish its work plan and form the Subcommittees that will negotiate the contents of the final standard.

The 58 individuals on the Standards Committee will take the reins of the standard-setting process at the first Standards Committee meeting, to be held in Madison, Wisconsin next month. The Standards Committee includes farmers, both large and small, representing conventional, organic and other alternative agriculture perspectives, as well as wholesalers and retailers. Also represented on the committee are major industry associations, as well as academic researchers, regulators, and environmental and labor representatives.

"This is an exciting moment, as it sets the stage for the first national discussion about sustainable agriculture, and the many important issues encompassed by this concept," said Michael Arny, president of Leonardo Academy, the ANSI-accredited standards development organization charged with shepherding the process forward. "There are still ample opportunities for additional stakeholders to participate by applying to work on the various Subcommittees, and later during the public review and comment process. The ANSI process is an open process that welcomes everyone."

Sustainability is widely understood to encompass environmental, social, and economic parameters, dating back to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. For agricultural products, safety and quality parameters are also a key part of the sustainability discussion. SCS-001, the draft standard that will serve as the starting point for discussions, also addresses the impacts of product packaging, the responsibilities of the supply chain, and agricultural practices that can minimize greenhouse gases.

"We would like to congratulate Leonardo Academy on the incredible job they've done in selecting a balanced, multi-stakeholder task group to serve on the Standards Committee," said Linda Brown, executive vice president of Scientific Certification Systems (SCS). "The commitment of so many talented individuals to participate in a constructive, forward-looking sustainability dialogue bodes well for a process that will help guide sustainability practices for years to come. We look forward to taking our seat at this table among these exceptional individuals."

According to Arny, the Leonardo Academy's aim is to guide a process that supports continuous improvement over time in a measurable and transparent manner, with sufficient flexibility to take into account the changes that inevitably occur in ecosystems, and the production variables associated with different agricultural regions.

"This standard could serve many potential beneficial uses," said Arny. "It could stimulate better understanding of sustainability dynamics, provide a roadmap for practical improvement, and establish a credible infrastructure and procedures for meaningful verification of claims."

Remote access to meetings for, participants at both the Standards Committee and Subcommittee levels will remove barriers to participation for members who are not able to travel to meetings. This will also help reduce the energy burden and lower the carbon footprint of the standard setting process itself.

"The challenges ahead are significant, including regional variables, important product sector distinctions, concerns that the interests of small and mid-scale farmers be protected, and awareness that standards must remain flexible enough to encourage continuing innovation,” Brown observed. "Likewise, there is a growing recognition that sustainability is itself a journey, one that ultimately involves relationships along the entire value chain, from grower to consumer. And there are still many unknowns, because our understanding of sustainability evolves along with our increasing knowledge about the risks to the environment. But it is these very challenges that provide the most compelling reasons for stakeholders to join in this national sustainability dialogue."

For more information, please contact:

Diane Dulmage Scientific Certification Systems
Phone: 510-452-8003

 

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