The European Commission today adopted a proposal for a new regulation on organic agriculture, which aims to improve both the clarity for consumers and farmers. The new rules will be simpler, and allow some flexibility to take into account regional differences in climate and conditions. Organic food producers can choose whether or not to use the EU organic logo. If they prefer not to use it, their products are labeled for organic foods in the EU. At least 95% of the final product must be organic in order to carry this label. Products containing GMOs cannot be labeled as organic, except if they contain less than 0.9% of accidental contamination by GMOs. It will allow imports of organic products provided that they meet EU standards or to their country of origin, granted similar guarantees.
Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "Now, consumers can recognize organic products much more easily and can understand its benefits to the environment and animal welfare."
The new rules respond to the Council conclusions of October 2004 on the European Action Plan for Food and Agriculture (EAP) of June 2004 which provided a strategic vision for the contribution of agriculture Green to the Common Agricultural Policy to the import regime, the new rules will apply from January 1st, 2007. It is proposed that the new regulation enters into force on January 1, 2009.
The new rules:
- Defining the objectives and principles of organic production while taking into account local conditions and stages of development;
- Ensuring that the objectives and principles apply equally to all stages of organic livestock production, aquaculture, plant production and animal feed as well as organic food production;
- Clarifying the GMO rules. In particular, it is clear that general GMO thresholds apply, GMO products can not carry the organic label and that can take specific thresholds for seeds;
- Making compulsory EU logo (in its absence) a stylized indication Organic Products EU following the same style by imposing restrictions on labeling and advertising claims to promote the "common concept" of the production;
- Strengthening risk-based approach and improving controls by aligning the control system to the formal system of control of food and feed in the EU, which applies to all food and feed;
- Improving the free circulation of organic goods by ensuring that EU rules guarantee the highest quality, strengthening the fairness of the control system, mutual recognition of quality standards and reduce the chances that the Control authorize lower standards;
- Developing permanent import rules.
Source: European Commission