EU Commission plans to Tighten Organic Standards

Stricter Guidelines for Organic Farmers receive Criticism

At the end of March, the EU Commission decided to tighten the legal guidelines for organic farming. The goal is to gain more trust in organic products. Using Germany as an example, Tell It’s Green took a closer look at the new rules.
Image of article: Stricter Guidelines for Organic Farmers receive Criticism
Photographer: Bettina Schönemann · Copyright: Tell It's Green

Organic, or not, that is the Question

In the last decade the organic market in Europe has increased threefold. As a result, Brussels established basic regulations for organic farming in 2007. The regulations contain information regarding the criteria farmers must fulfill so that their products may bear the organic logo. This regulation has been tightened by the EU Commission. The new bill was the result of some of the most recent food scandals, including the “falsified” organic eggs. Consumers will hopefully begin to trust the organic logo once again and thus stimulate organic agriculture. One of the new regulations requires the meat in organic-labelled animal feed to be 100% organic – 95% was the former requirement. Moreover, farmers may not simultaneously operate conventional and organic farms on their land so that inspections can occur more often and in a simplified manner. 

Consumer Protection or Pitiless Laws?

In addition to the stricter guidelines for meat production, farming organic produce is also being increasingly standardized. The seeds for the fruit were previously allowed to be produced using conventional means, as long as the ground and the cultivation complied with organic standards. Now, the seeds themselves must be organic. Although it sounds positive at first, this could present a problem for foreign-grown fruits. There is simply not enough organic seed for all produce farms, i.e. for artichokes. The German minister of agriculture Christian Schmidt made a statement to the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Radio) saying that he does not completely agree with the proposed bill.  “We don’t want exuberant democratic control to take away the organic farmers’ desire to produce organically.”

EU Commission plans to tighten organic standards and receives criticism.

Producers Protest New Regulations

For customers, the new organic regulations mean a higher level of security. The farmers, especially from small farms, see a threat posed to their existence. The German association of organic food producers (Assoziation ökologischer Lebensmittelhersteller [AöL]) has criticized that the proposed bill “is not suitable for supporting the goal of the organic movement,” as farms will have to close because of the regulations, ultimately slowing organic agriculture in Germany. The Bioland farms share a similar opinion. They note that organic farming has always been defined by its applied methods which promote the preservation of natural resources and support animal welfare and environmental protection. “Now, according to the will of the Commission, the product traits should decide if a food product can be marketed as an organic product,” – as opposed to farming. The law’s passing can first be decided when the new EU commissioner for agriculture and rural development take’s office. In October, the first discussion on the topic will take place in Brussels.

05.06.2014 · 12:30 · Author: Nancy Riegel (translated by Nicholas Gregg) · Category: Agriculture
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