The talks come as the EU and Mexico attempt to forge a general agreement on trading organic food products.
Hugo Fragoso, director of the agricultural and fisheries safety department of Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, warned that an existing recognition of EU organic standards by Mexico was due to expire in May 2017.
“If we don’t have an agreement signed by [then], the imports from Europe will not be able to enter Mexican soil because the recognition granted by Mexico will expire. However, we are optimistic and we expect to have a draft in January 2017,” he told GlobalMeatNews.
Global warming concern
There are similarities between Mexican and the EU regulations on production and distribution of organic meat products, indeed the relevant Mexican regulation – Ley de Productos Orgánicos, published on February 2006 – was based on the European norms. However, said Mr Fragoso, “There are some non-equivalent points that need to be sorted. Those incompatible elements are the areas that can be used for cattle breeding. Mexico is well known for having a tropical climate, therefore the cattle can move freely throughout the whole year without having to be confined in small spaces like it is done in some locations around Europe. We will have to assess the effects of cattle concentration on global nitrogen and CO2 levels to ensure that it is not damaging the atmosphere,” he said.
Another issue is the use of antibiotics. The Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has stated that the goal of organic cattle production is to “gradually reduce the use of allopathic veterinary chemicals”.
“Their use is partially banned in Mexico. We have had several differences with some other countries like the US, where they are strictly forbidden, so it is another topic that needs to be discussed in meetings with EU authorities but we’re closer to reaching a deal with Europe than we are with others,” he said.
Site inspections expected
The EU is certainly keen to strike a deal. EU agriculture and rural development Commissioner Phil Hogan visited Mexico in February in advance of the negotiations.
“We are now revising their regulation and they have ours, so it is time to carry out the audits of all production processes and organic certificate granting to procedures of each country. We will be there in September and the EU delegates will come to Mexico in October,” said Juan José Linares Martínez, technical secretary of Mexico’s National Council for Organic Production.
The non-equivalent elements will be discussed in October and, if all goes well, according to Fragoso, a draft deal will take two to three months to frame.