During the revision of the certification criteria for the GLOBALG.A.P. Standard for Good Agricultural Practices the participating producers, retailers and industrial companies have, in the past five years, discussed intensively a potential health hazard through the application of raw manure in the production of fruit and vegetables, as well as on arable land.

A proactive decision was made to raise the requirements in the spirit of due diligence. Because, although hardly any standardized scientific research on this subject has been published, cases of contamination with pathogens through raw manure of animal origin are known.

At first, the current Version 5 of the Standard published in mid-2015 provided for an obligatory tightening of the hitherto criteria from the previous version for the spread of untreated raw manure from animal origin on arable land. With a basic minimum interval of three months before the harvest and six months for crops that come into direct contact with the ground and are eaten raw, the new rule was designed with a very high safety buffer.

However, it would also have had the effect that many farmers would have had to limit or even dispense with the use of this natural form of manure, particularly in organic production. An in-depth discussion of this issue has now led to the realization that possible solutions are potentially complex and therefore require new research and experiments in order to enable higher flexibility and application-related risk differentiation.

After intensive discussions, the GLOBALG.A.P. Board has therefore decided to again modify the original application periods for untreated raw manure referred to in Version 5.0. For all inspections in Version 5.0-1 the following now applies:

Generally not less than 60 days!
For agriculturally produced food, all licensees undertake to maintain a minimum time span of 60 days between application of untreated raw manure of animal origin and harvest.

No contact of leaf vegetables with untreated manure!
Point two of the revised regulations states that untreated raw manure may on no account be applied from the time of planting of leaf vegetables onwards and during the entire growth period. For tree-based cultivation this form of manure may not be used anymore after the beginning of bud burst.

Risk analysis recommended!
GLOBALG.A.P. strongly recommends that all producers carry out risk analyses that go beyond the compulsory points stated above. Part of the joint work will be to assess the risks in a more differentiated manner, so that producers can ensure adequate consumer protection for specific cultivation. This corresponds to the political demand for effective consumer protection, as well as the increasingly demanding expectations of consumers when it comes to the safety of agriculturally produced food.

With the defined “sixty plus rule”, the GLOBALG.A.P. Standard in its currently 5th version continues to pursue the goal of minimizing the risk of potential microbiological hazards. At the same time, the Standard gives producers the necessary flexibility to individually make use of innovative techniques. The new rules increase the flexibility for producers, but also their responsibility for taking possible risks into consideration even more.  

Producers can get more information from their certification bodies, as well as shortly on the GLOBALG.A.P. website.

Contact: GLOBALG.A.P. Secretariat at info@globalgap.org.