Demeter Biodynamic


Highly Meaningful 

  • The Demeter Biodynamic label is highly meaningful and verified. It means that the food was grown and processed in accordance with the Demeter Biodynamic standards, which promote ecologically sustainable farming practices and prohibit synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics (except to treat sick animals), genetically engineered seeds, sewage sludge as a fertilizer, artificial ingredients, and other inputs that can be used in conventional agriculture and food processing.
Is the label verified?

Yes

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

Yes

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Partially

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Partially

This label can be found on: foods and beverages

ORGANIZATION: Demeter Association, Inc.

url: www.demeter-usa.org

LABEL STANDARDS: http://www.demeter-usa.org/learn-more/biodynamic-farm-standard.asp

What this label means 

Foods with the Demeter Biodynamic label come from farms that are managed in an ecologically sustainable way and are processed without the use of artificial materials.

Biodynamic farms are managed as self-contained, self-sustaining ecosystems that minimize their reliance on external inputs and minimize negative impacts on the environment. To be Demeter Biodynamic certified, a farm must meet all the requirements of the USDA’s National Organic Program, in addition to the more rigorous Demeter standards.

Demeter Biodynamic standards prohibit farmers from using toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics (except to treat sick animals), sewage sludge, and genetically engineered organisms. Like the organic standards, the Demeter Biodynamic standards require ecologically sustainable farming practices including crop rotation, use of cover crops, and non-chemical pest control. 

The Demeter Biodynamic standards exceed those of organic certification in several areas. The following are some of the inputs and practices that are allowed in USDA organic certification and prohibited in Demeter Biodynamic certification:

  • hormonal treatments to control reproduction and increase production in animals, such as oxytocin. Oxytocin can only be used for therapeutic reasons
  • Chilean nitrate (a mineral fertilizer that is naturally occurring but mined)
  • synthetic amino acids in poultry feed 
  • tail cutting and tooth filing of piglets
  • antibiotic use in poultry eggs and chicks 
  • manure from conventional intensive livestock operations, which can be contaminated with pesticides, drug residues, and other chemicals

Unlike on conventional and organic farms, certified Demeter farms cannot apply raw manure collected from barns and holding pens to fields until it has been properly composted. Farms must strive for complete self-sufficiency and regeneration on the farm, which means limiting the reliance on manure and other fertilizers from outside sources.

Since farms strive to be self-sufficient, animals are considered to be an integral part of the farm. The farm relies on animal manure for soil fertility, and at least half of the animals’ feed must come from the farm (the remainder must be at least 30% Demeter certified and 20% certified organic to meet certification). 

Animals must be treated humanely, and standards ensure that the animals are raised outdoors and able to engage in natural behaviors. For example, each laying hen is required to have at least 43 sq. ft. of outdoor space.

The Demeter Biodynamic standards prohibit certain physical alterations that are permitted in organic production, such as tail docking of pigs and lambs, dehorning cattle, and beak trimming of chickens. Castration of calves and piglets is permitted if carried out by competent personnel at the most appropriate age of the animal, and any suffering of the animals must be reduced to a minimum.

Growing crops hydroponically, without soil and in a water nutrient solution, is prohibited. The USDA allows hydroponically grown crops, such tomatoes and bell peppers, to be sold as certified organic.

The Demeter Biodynamic standards also enhance biodiversity and protect natural resources. The standards require that at least 10% of the farm is set aside as a biodiversity reserve. The standards prohibit clearing virgin forest for agricultural use and require that other conservation areas of high ecological value are   protected.

The Demeter Biodynamic standards also address how foods can be processed. Like organic, Demeter Biodynamic standards prohibit chemical processing aids and artificial additives, but organic regulations allow for exceptions that are prohibited by the Demeter Biodynamic standards. For example, the Demeter standards prohibit the use of raising agents containing phosphates in baked good and the use of manufactured natural flavors. The Demeter Biodynamic standards also prohibit processing procedures that diminish the quality of the food, such as reconstituting juice from concentrates.

CONSUMER REPORTS EVALUATION

How meaningful is this label? 

Highly Meaningful.

The standards are comprehensive and take into account various aspects of sustainable agriculture, including soil fertility, animal welfare, reliance on natural methods of pest management rather than chemical pesticides, and biodiversity preservation. The standards also cover food processing to prevent highly processed foods and prohibit artificial processing aids and ingredients.

A biodynamic product must meet all the requirements of a certified organic product in addition to the more rigorous biodynamic requirements. The Demeter Biodynamic standards are more restrictive; certain inputs and practices that are allowed by certified organic standards are prohibited by biodynamic standards.

Is the label verified?

Yes.

The label is verified by Demeter Association, Inc. The certification process consists of an application review, an on-site visit by an inspector annually. Traders are subject to an annual desk audit, with a site visit as deemed necessary. Unannounced inspections are possible.

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

Yes. Agriculturally based products can only be labeled as Demeter Biodynamic if they have achieved Demeter certification.

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

Standards are available at: http://www.demeter-usa.org/learn-more/biodynamic-farm-standard.asp

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Partially.

Board of Directors: Yes. The members of the board of directors and their affiliations are listed on the website.

Financial information: No. Demeter Association, Inc. is incorporated in the state of Oregon. It is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Financial information is not made available.

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Standards development: Yes. The standards are decided by the board of directors of Demeter Association, Inc. Members of the board must comply with the association’s conflict of interest policy, which prevents individuals with a conflict from voting.

Verification:  Yes. Demeter Association, Inc., has a comprehensive conflict of interest policy to ensure that all individuals involved in the certification program are free from conflicts of interest.

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Partially.

Standards development: The standards were initially developed by a group of farmers who formed Demeter to codify the principles of sustainable agriculture described by Austrian scientist, philosopher, and founder of the Waldorf School, Dr. Rudolph Steiner.

Standards updates: Demeter USA is a member of Demeter International, and standards are administered by a democratic assembly of 22 countries from around the world. The standards are revised annually at a minimum. The process for revising the standards requires that the executive director vets the drafts within industry to obtain feedback. Producers are advised of the changes and given a 30-day period during which to respond with any issues, although only “errors of omission or unforeseen issues” will be considered.