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EU organic sector reviews new regulations

By Lorraine Heller , 21-Jun-2010

The European organic sector is today meeting in Rome to review the benefits and drawbacks of new organic regulations a year and a half after their implementation.

The 4th European Organic Congress – organised by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements EU Group (IFOAM) and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (IAMB) – is bringing together key European politicians as well as organic industry stakeholders for the two-day congress in Rome.

“Players from the whole organic sector will be discussing the pros and cons of the regulation to understand what is on the right track and what needs further consideration and maybe change,” an IFOAM spokesperson, Thomas Cierpka, told FoodNavigator.com.

“The feedback from this congress will help us formulate the direction of our lobbying efforts to the Commission moving forward,” he added.

New organic regulations

The regulation in question came into force on January 1 2009, and was designed to simplify the organic sector for farmers and consumers, and to help drive further development.

It relates to organic livestock, acquaculture, plant and feed production and the production of organic foods, but also forms a basis for add-on rules relating to organic wine, seaweed and yeasts.

The regulation provides a complete set of objectives, principles and basic rules for organic production, and also includes a permanent import regime and more consistent control regime.

Other key aspects include a clarification that GMO products are strictly banned for use in organic production, and the 0.9 per cent accidental approved GMO threshold applies also to organic food. The rules also set out the mandatory use of an EU organic logo if 95 per cent of the ingredients are organic, and the place where the products were farmed must also be indicated.

Review

Some 250 participants at the congress today and tomorrow will evaluate this regulatory situation, and highlight priorities for future regulatory developments.

According to IFOAM, one crucial issue for the organic sector is how to improve market access and thereby secure income for small and medium sized enterprises or farms.

In addition, since EU internal production is not sufficient to meet the increasing European demands for organic products, the levels of imports from non-EU countries have increased, said the group. “This underlines the need for a well functioning and fair import regime which ensures the quality of imported products.”

Aquaculture will also be on the agenda. “In the light of the recent EU ban on fishing certain species in the Mediterranean Sea due to overfishing, sustainable alternatives such as organic aquaculture offers interesting solutions. The introduction of a new Regulation for Organic Aquaculture Production will be marked by the launch of a dossier on the new regulation during the congress.”

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