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New Certification System (SCS) Seeks to Integrate Organic & Fair Trade Practices

Press Release
Contact: Alexander Winslow Director of Communications
awinslow@scscertified.com Tel 510-452-8003

New Certification Program to Recognize Socially Responsible Business Practices
Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits Certification Program Unveiled


Emeryville, CA ­ March 23, 2007 ­ Four prominent organizations that are leaders in the fields of organic products, labor rights, and third party certification for the food and agricultural industry joined together recently to announce the Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits certification, a new state-of-the-art certification program recognizing socially responsible practices by businesses in the agricultural industry.

The announcement was made at the annual Natural Products Expo West, one of the biggest shows of the year for companies in the organic products industry.  The initiative is being led by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), a leading U.S. sustainability standards developer and certifier in sectors such as food, forestry, fisheries, and cut flowers.     

The other organizations joining in the announcement were Numi Organic Tea, a leader in the organic products industry and in fair labor and sustainability practices; the International Labor Rights Fund, an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide; and, NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit developer of standards and certifications for food, water, and consumer goods, and an accredited standards developer with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits certification is based on the social and economic sustainability elements of SCS-001 Sustainable Agriculture,  which has been submitted by SCS to NSF International for filing as a Draft American National Standard for Trial Use with ANSI, the official national standards administrator for the U.S.  Once the standard is formally filed, it will undergo further review and refinement through a multi-stakeholder, consensus-based process.  Farms, processors, and handlers that are certified as organic under the U.S. National Organic Program are also eligible for certification under the new Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits label, provided they meet the Fair Labor Practices, Community Benefits, and all other applicable criteria.

"This groundbreaking initiative will improve the lives and livelihoods of agricultural workers worldwide and provide greater assurance to consumers and businesses that social responsibility commitments are being met," announced Ted Howes, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, SCS.  "The requirements for achieving the Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits certification represent significant benchmarks of environmental and social responsibility achievements." -more-

Requirements for companies to achieve the Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits certification include high standards related to hiring and employment practices, workplace conditions, and access for workers and their families to transportation,health, and education services.  Requirements address such issues as hiring, wages, working hours and overtime, the right to organize and to collective bargaining, vacation and sick leave, child labor, access to housing and sanitary facilities, occupational health and safety, and community engagement.  

Ahmed Rahim, CEO and Co-founder, Numi Organic Tea, stated, "As a leader in the field of sustainable agriculture and fair labor practices, Numi has long recognized the importance of conducting our operations in a manner that supports the needs of workers, their families, and communities.  Companies such as ours now have a broader platform to be independently certified for our efforts to ensure a safe and equitable workplace for workers who are our lifeblood.  We strongly believe in this new approach and are eager to be one of the first companies to get certified."

Nora Ferm, Director of the International Labor Rights Fund's Rights for Working Women Campaign, stated, "The International Labor Rights Fund has been involved with Scientific Certification Systems since 2005 to help make labor standards as strong as possible.  For example, we've accompanied SCS auditors on flower farm inspections in Ecuador.  This process has resulted in a strong set of standards for cut flower production that have now been transformed into a general Fair Labor Practices certification that includes other agricultural sectors. ILRF would like to congratulate Scientific Certification Systems for launching this dramatic initiative and we look forward to continuing to participate in this process.

Kristen Holt, Senior Vice President, NSF International, stated, "NSF supports this initiative because of what it will accomplish for the environment and for workers' health.  NSF International is pleased to be the standards development organization that will work closely with SCS to move the process forward."

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 About Scientific Certification Systems (SCS)

SCS is an independent certifier of environmental, sustainability, food quality and food purity claims.  Over two decades, SCS has developed internationally recognized standards and certification programs aimed at spurring the highest level of environmental improvements, social accountability and product performance.  Its programs span a wide cross-section of the economy, recognizing accomplishments in agricultural production, food processing and handling, forestry, fisheries, flowers and plants, energy, green building, consumer and business product manufacturing, and retail.  SCS is an accredited certifier with the U.S. National Organic Program, the Forest Stewardship Council, and the Marine Stewardship Council.  SCS also  developed Starbucks Coffee Company's C.A.F.E. Practices program and accredits and audits inspectors under this program. For more information about SCS, visit www.scscertified.com or call 510-452-8000.

Anna Wassermann~Hartman Public Relations Manager

p: 510-533-8720 ext. 16 f: 510-533-8826 e: anna@numitea.com www.numitea.com