The Ministers of Agriculture of the European Union have reached a political agreement on a new regulation on the production and labeling of organic foods that will be simpler for both farmers and consumers. The new rules set out a complete set of objectives, principles and basic rules for organic production, and include a new permanent import regime and a more systematic control system. The use of ecological logo of the EU is mandatory, but it may be accompanied by national or private logos. It must indicate the place of production of food for reporting this information to consumers. The food may bear the organic logo if at least 95% of its ingredients conform to that mode of production. The use of genetically modified organisms will remain prohibited. Furthermore, it was explicit that the general limit of 0.9% of adventitious presence of approved GMOs applies also to organic products. There will be no changes in the list of approved substances for organic agriculture. The new rules also create the basis for adding rules on organic aquaculture and organic wine, seaweed and yeasts. In the second part of this revision exercise, and based on this new regulation, the existing implementation is transferred from the old to the new regulation.
Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "This is an excellent agreement which will help consumers to recognize organic products in the EU more easily and give them guarantees on exactly what they are buying. The market for organic food is a great success and is rapidly expanding, and I hope that this new set of standards provides the framework necessary to maintain this growth through a combination of demand and the entrepreneurship of European farmers."
The new regulation:
It establishes more explicit objectives, principles and production rules for organic agriculture, while provides the flexibility to adapt to local conditions and different stages of development. It ensures that the objectives and principles apply equally to all phases of livestock, aquaculture and animal feed production plants and production of organic food. It Clarifies the GMO rules, notably those which require that these products are strictly prohibited in organic production, and that the general threshold of 0.9% of adventitious presence of approved GMOs applies also to the organic food. It makes compulsory information about the EU logo for local organic products , but this indication will be accompanied by national or private logos to promote the "common concept" of organic production. It avoids prohibiting the imposition of more stringent private standards, ensures that only foods containing at least 95% organic ingredients may bear the label, allows to indicate the non-organic products organic ingredients, but only in the ingredient list. Not currently includes the areas of catering, but allow Member States to regulate if they wish pending revision at EU level to be held in 2011, strengthens the approach based on risk control and improve the control system to integrate it into the official control system applicable to all food and feed in the EU, while keeping the specific controls used for organic production.
In 2005, 25 Member States were registered in the European Union of about 6 million hectares as organic agriculture or being converted to organic production. That figure marked an increase of over 2% over 2004 figures. In the same period, the number of organic agriculture increased by over 6%.
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