Socio-economic effects of the organic certification system

Theresa Bernhardt


The function of the organic certification system is to enable systemic trust in organic agriculture and products. The growth of the organic sector over the past two decades has required therefore a change in the certification system replacing the first party, or peer review, system by a third party certification, in which a disinterested party provides the certification. Third party inspection is based on an institutionalized mistrust order, which induces several effects. Consumers trust in organic labelling schemes, when there is a substantial active and visible state involvement. But there are also other effects within both the certification system and the inspection bodies. Furthermore there are effects in interactions with producers or customers. The literature review shows that so far studies dealing both with processes in and effects of certification systems have been rare.

Keywords: certification system, organic agriculture, confidence building

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