Memo Regarding Organic Certificates Print

Sunlife Goji LogoMemo Regarding Organic Certificates

Nov 18, 2008

At Sun Life Goji we work with the top Goji producers in Ningxia province in China. These farms have been converting to Organic production methods over the past five to seven years. Some have obtained third party certification from internationally recognized certifying bodies. Other farms have been certified by the China Organic Food Certification Center. Some farms have the Green Food Certificate.

In order to ensure that our customers have the product that they require it is necessary to clarify a few points about the various types of documentation that we offer. We have learned the hard way that not all end users are able to work with any given certificate. Therefore the following points must be kept clear to avoid confusion.

  1. Green Food Certificate is NOT equal to any “Organic” certificate.
  2. “Conversion Certificate” issued by China Organic Food Certification Center (COFCC) is issued in three stages. The international standard used is GB/T 19630.1/3/4 which is the standard used by Eco-Cert, Ceres, USDA and other internationally recognized certifiers. First conversion is given during the first 1-3 years of transition from conventional to “Organic” production methods. Even though the crop is grown and processed organically there is residue in the soil which the plant takes up and the berry is not pristine. COFCC has an extremely strict policy about soil and water residue which makes it very rare for a farm to get a second conversion certificate before the fourth year. When the crop is completely free from any residue and the soil and water testing is consistent with each watering of the crop showing absolutely zero residue, then and only then will the COFCC issue its full “Organic Certification”. For this reason we also provide the lab reports on the berries tested to show that the product actually EXCEEDS the standards required by many countries.
  3. Not all farms have been certified by more than one certifying body. Not all farms have permission to label their product with “Organic” logo even though they have been so certified. This has more to do with Chinese legislation than any outside factor.
  4. We have discovered that the Chinese government has not yet applied for “Equivalency Status” with the Canadian Government in the certifying of “Organic Produce”. This may be true in other countries also. This is a political and not a scientific bridge which must be crossed. Sun Life Goji is currently working through the Chinese Consulate in Toronto to encourage the Chinese government to apply for this recognition as quickly as possible. We are also working directly with COFCC to have them recognized by the Canadian Organic Regime to be accepted as a certifying body in time for the Canadian legislation which is scheduled to come into force in June of 2009.
  5. Due to the tremendous costs involved with the certification process it is extremely rare that any given farm will have more than one type of certification. Each certifying body insists that they must do their own testing and will not accept any other certificate in lieu of another round of test procedures.
  6. All “Organic” Goji berries {proper name is Wolfberry which is botanically Lycium barbarum} from Ningxia are processed in modern facilities using “Organic” methods. Our export documents include a Phytosanitary certificate which confirms that the product is free from any quarantine pests and that no disinfestation or disinfection treatment was applied to the product or packaging.
  7. There is no such thing as “Tibetan Goji Berries” other than the use of this term as a trade name. We are aware of one Australian company which actually has planted Goji just inside the Tibetan border near the Ningxia region. As far as we know they have the only commercial Goji farm in Tibet. All other claims about Tibetan wild crafted so called authentic Goji by any of the manufactured and fictitious names such as “Lycium tibeticum” and “Lycium eleagnus” is a poor deception. This truth is easily confirmed by searching resources like the British museum, New York Museum of Natural History and the USDA “GRIN” database. GRIN is the Germplasm Resources Information Network and can be found at