Participatory guarantee system, equivalence and quality control in a comparative study on organic certifications systems in Europe and Brazil

Abstract Although organic agriculture in Brazil targets mainly local consumers, there is growing demand for research related to commercializing this sector abroad. A study was done in Europe on the perception of entities related to this theme, specifically on Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), the feasibility of equivalence between the countries, and control procedures. An exploratory study was conducted through interviews with five organic certification bodies, two in Switzerland, three in Italy, and with a producer association in Italy. PGS is little known in Europe in general and it is suggested that it be better disseminated in the member countries. PGS has been evaluated positively for reducing certification costs and promoting benefits from a social aspect, but it can fail in organic compliance and in large scale production. There are significant differences that must be overcome in order to establish equivalence, such as the lack of homogeneity among European countries on control procedures, the existence of PGS in Brazilian legislation, lack of wild crop products in Europe, different conversion periods, and the requirement of a higher number of inspections in Brazil. Equivalence is seen as beneficial to both Europe and Brazil, and it would therefore be appropriate to promote its viability. The Brazilian law on organic agriculture is taken as very restrictive and complex.