Highview students want government standards for organic products

Highview College Bill

A team of six young Victorians are pushing for the government to implement standards for organic agricultural products.

The six passionate Highview College students have recognised the current lack of regulations in the labelling of organic products, and as a result feel there is a need to provide consumer trust in the rapidly growing industry.

The Bill aims to establish a body known as Organic Agriculture Victoria, where statewide standards will be created to guarantee organic integrity and the streamlining of organic labelling.

The Highview team have proposed the creation of the ‘Organic Seal’ to be displayed on organic agricultural products which adhere to set government guidelines.

The current standards in Australia allow operators to promote their agricultural products as organic, with an increased market value, when they may not be truly organic.

“We want to provide confidence to a consumer that a product that advertises as organic is in fact organic,” said team member, Daniel Chapman.

With an approximate retail value of $1 billion in 2010, the team said they understand the importance of regulating the rapidly expanding industry.

The Bill offers subsidies to the operators of organic agriculture, including a tax subsidy which would impact the cost of organic products, making them more affordable to Australians.

The group of high school students are passionate about the environmental benefits of organic agriculture.

“The impacts of organic grown produce have less of an impact on the environment and are also incredibly more humane in their treatment of livestock, which is a huge reason for purchasing organic,” said Chapman.

If the Bill passes, an educational program for school aged children will be implemented, along side an advertising campaign informing the community on the new certification standards, as well as the health and environmental benefits of buying organic products.

The team of six strongly believe in the need for the legislation. The Bill will be debated in Victorian parliament over three days in July, and if successful will be passed onto relevant Victorian Cabinet Ministers for consideration.

The Highview College team consists of Caitlin Bundy, Megan Armstrong, Brooke Carron, Laurel Fry-McBean, Gracie Ostapiw, and Daniel Chapman.

By Hannah Andrews

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