Ecolabeling for Florida citrus

James J. Ferguson


Like other food labels that inform consumers about product ingredients and nutrition, ecolabels also provide information about production practices and related environmental and social issues. "Certified Organic", the most widely known USDA ecolabel with defined soil and crop management programs, has generated a broad emphasis on sustainable food production systems, healthful food, environmental and social justice issues, often described as the "Greening of the Food Market". A wide range of ecolabels, both in the US and twenty five other countries, has emerged, along with a Global Ecolabeling Network, promoting products based upon environmental impact assessments and often addressing issues dealt with only anecdotally in organic certification. Although multi-faceted ecolabeling programs may confuse consumers, efforts are underway to coordinate certification and marketing strategies. Florida citrus growers already committed to IPM and related sustainable practices but who may not seek organic certification, may qualify for established ecolabels programs, several of which are already active in Florida. Certification standards generally focus on avoiding the use of transgenic, genetically modified crops and livestock and on using other common best management practices including reduced pesticide use, equipment calibration, soil and water conservation, conserving and recycling nutrients, fair working conditions, and wildlife habitat conservation. Ecolabels therefore, offer the broad potential for transforming environmental concerns into a market advantage for Florida citrus and other crops.


greening; organic certification

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283