Friday, July 02, 2010

'Re-leaf' from industrial agriculture

Over the years the organic/sustainable agriculture movement has made great strides in reforming farming practices worldwide. While agribusiness is still the dominant player, the alternative farming community has shown what can be accomplished with the right mix of science, activism, creative marketing and grass roots politics. (GW)

EU label aims to boost organic farming

July 1, 2010

The European Commission hopes that new EU rules, including the new organic logo 'Euro-Leaf', will enhance consumer confidence in organic food and boost the sector across Europe.


Organic farming is a method of production which emphasises environmental protection and animal welfare considerations. It avoids or drastically reduces the use of synthetic chemical inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides, additives and medicinal products.

When the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was created, there was no such thing as organic farming. Organic agriculture received official recognition in 1991, when the first EU regulation on organic farming and a corresponding labelling system were adopted.

In response to "the rapid increase in the number of farmers producing organically and strong demand from consumers," the European Commission adopted an EU action plan for organic food and farming in June 2004.

The action plan set out initiatives aimed at developing the market for organic food and improving standards by increasing efficiency, transparency and consumer confidence.

The new rules enter into force today (1 July), making the 'Euro-Leaf' label mandatory on pre-packaged organic foods that meet organic farming standards.

The logo stays optional for non-packed and imported organic products and other private, regional or national logos can still be displayed next to the EU label.

In addition to the logo, the new rules also require operators to indicate where a product's ingredients were farmed and give the code number of the body that performed the checks.

"I hope that these changes will give a boost to the organic farming sector, but also further enhance consumer protection," said EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian CioloĊŸ.

Operators have a two-year transition period to comply with the new rules.

Organic aquaculture

Another change that comes into effect today is the introduction of the first-ever EU rules setting conditions for organic aquaculture.

They require the separation of organic and non-organic units and specify animal welfare conditions, including maximum stocking densities.

The rules also prohibit the use of induced spawning by artificial hormones and require the use of organic feeds which may be supplemented by fish feeds derived from sustainably managed fisheries.

The new organic labelling rules will also cover organic aquaculture production of fish, shellfish and seaweed.

Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki stressed that the new EU rules for organic aquaculture are "a boost for sound and environmentally-acceptable production and a viable alternative to the more traditional intensive approach," predicting that they will give consumers more choice.


Next Steps

By 1 July 2012: Operators must comply with new labelling rules.


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