FAO releases test version of Guidelines for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Assessments

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released the first test version of its Guidelines for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Assessments (SAFA).

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The guidelines grew from the need to have an agreed set of requirements and procedures to evaluate sustainability claims made by various operators about the sustainability of specific production systems. The guidelines grew out of an iterative process that began at the Rio summit in 1992. SAFA establishes a common framework for the sustainable production of food, fibre, and other agricultural products. Within that framework, SAFA defines the essential components of sustainable food and agriculture systems. SAFA also serves as an assessment tool that provides a template to substantiate sustainability claims made by various operators.

SAFA seeks to build on existing standards and add value to current systems rather than to replace them. Organic agriculture standards is referred to at several points in the SAFA Guidelines as indicators of sustainability. Actual performance will need to be tested. FAO seeks to pilot the SAFA test guidelines in a number of settings. Based on the pilot tests' outcomes, FAO plans to revise and finalize the the SAFA Guidelines in 2012.

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