FAQ: Does Rainforest Alliance Certification Require a Farm to Be Organic?

Rainforest Alliance Certified farms are not required to be organic.

For over 30 years, the Rainforest Alliance has been working to promote sustainable agriculture—farming that is environmentally sound, socially responsible, and profitable for farmers. Our certification program helps to address four main areas of sustainability:

Certified farms meet the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard. Its environmental criteria promote healthier soils, cleaner water, reduced use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, biodiversity conservation, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Our standard is based on the concept of integrated pest management (IPM) that allows for the targeted use of safe pesticides when pests are causing economic damage. The goal of the Rainforest Alliance's IPM strategy is to guide farms in developing robust plans to control pests naturally (with pesticides used as a last resort) and to improve ecosystem resilience. It requires farmers to use biological alternatives where possible and reduce their overall use of pesticides. The standard strictly prohibits the use of the most hazardous pesticides, as well as agrochemicals prohibited by applicable local law or not legally registered in the country of use. It also prohibits all genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Workers involved in pest management activities on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms must receive proper training on IPM, in the application of any agrochemicals and must use personal protective equipment. When farmers determine that agrochemicals are absolutely necessary to protect crops, they must choose the safest products available to safeguard human health and the environment. Our standard requires that all workers that apply, handle, transport, or come into contact with pesticides or other chemical substances receive specific safety training on the nature and health risks of these substances, proper handling, use of protective equipment, and emergency procedures in case of accidental exposure. Additionally, all agrochemical workers are required to have a medical exam at least once per year.

The Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard provides a realistic and effective way for farms of all sizes to move toward more resilient agro-ecosystems where there is less need for the use of pesticides.

Forest canopy - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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