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Agreement Reached on New EU Organic Food Rules

After lengthy negotiations, EU negotiators have agreed on new rules for EU organic products.

Jul. 17, 2017
By Isabel Putinja

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Euro­pean Union nego­tia­tors have reached agree­ment on new rules aim­ing to boost organic pro­duc­tion and increase con­sumer con­fi­dence in organic food prod­ucts in the EU.

The pro­posed rules aim to improve con­sumer trust by intro­duc­ing stricter con­trols of sup­ply chains, changes to com­pli­ance rules and stan­dards for imports and include new mea­sures to avoid pes­ti­cide con­t­a­m­i­na­tion.

The new rules are also expected to boost organic food pro­duc­tion in the EU by increas­ing the sup­ply of organic seeds and ani­mals, allow­ing for mixed farms grow­ing both organic and non-organic food on the con­di­tion that the two are kept sep­a­rate, and estab­lish­ing an eas­ier organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dure for small farm­ers.

In a EP press release Mar­tin Häusling, the rap­por­teur respon­si­ble for the EP’s report on the pro­posal and chief EP nego­tia­tor, said that the newly approved rules will ben­e­fit con­sumers and farm­ers across the EU.

After 20 months of nego­ti­a­tions we have man­aged to reach an agree­ment, which will help organic sec­tor grow and will increase con­sumers’ trust in organic food­stuffs. It was a labo­ri­ous task but I believe new rules will bring ben­e­fits to both EU con­sumers and organic farm­ers,” Häusling said.

The new reg­u­la­tion replaces the orig­i­nal, intro­duced in 1991 and sub­se­quently revised in 1998 and 2007. The leg­isla­tive pro­posal was first intro­duced by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in March 2014 but an agree­ment was reached only recently after more than three years of intense nego­ti­a­tions.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Euro­pean Coun­cil and Euro­pean Par­lia­ment (EP) pro­vi­sion­ally agreed on the new rules on June 28. The pro­posed reg­u­la­tion still has to be for­mally endorsed by the EP’s Agri­cul­ture and Rural Devel­op­ment Com­mit­tee and the Coun­cil of Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ters and will enter into force from July 2020 in all EU mem­ber states.

The mar­ket for organic food in the EU has been grow­ing steadily but accord­ing to an EP back­ground note, only six per­cent of agri­cul­tural land in the EU is organ­i­cally cul­ti­vated, and imports are required to meet mar­ket demands.

Den­mark has the high­est per-capita con­sump­tion of organic prod­ucts accord­ing to 2013 fig­ures, fol­lowed by Lux­em­bourg, Aus­tria, Swe­den and Ger­many.

The value of the mar­ket for organic prod­ucts in the EU was esti­mated at €22.2 bil­lion ($25.4 bil­lion) in 2013. The EU cur­rently has 260,000 organic farm­ers, with the major­ity located in Italy (46,000), Spain (30,000) and Poland (26,000).

The EU organic logo was unveiled in 2010 to sym­bol­ize the har­mo­nized rules applied across the EU mem­ber states and make organic prod­ucts eas­ily iden­ti­fi­able for con­sumers. The logo is manda­tory for all pre-pack­aged organic prod­ucts pro­duced in the EU.



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