EU consultation on organic agriculture

15 March 2013

We would like to ask you to contribute to an EU consultation ‘Review of the EU policy on organic agriculture legislation and action plan

The consultation is web-based and can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/consultations/organic/2013_en.htm

Why is it important that Soil Association and our licensees and supporters make their voices heard?

The Soil Association has a long history of developing pioneering private organic standards. However, the EU organic legislation is relevant to us as it sets the baseline for all organic food production and processing in the EU. Also, it is influential in the wider world in determining the global requirements for organic standards.

The consultation document is intended to help you offer an opinion on some important aspects of the current organic regulation and a new organic action plan. However, the Soil Association and others in the organic movement feel that the questions are not worded well, and miss some big issues. In some cases, we feel that it is only possible to give a useful answer by submitting some additional comments.

We have provided a copy of our responses plus some guidance which you may find useful when you are completing the questionnaire. Please download the pdf here.

The online questionnaire contains a link in section 10 that allows you to email any suggestions about the review to AGRI-ORGANIC-CONSULTATION@ec.europa.eu. If you want to have your own say, please use the link to send an email to the European Commission letting them know what you think.

Our message to the European authorities is that we want an Organic Regulation that provides confidence in organic food and farming, but that doesn’t overburden businesses and control bodies with unnecessary bureaucracy. We want there to be enough flexibility in the Regulation to allow the organic sector and practices to develop, with any exceptions or permissions carefully monitored, so that businesses can pioneer new products or techniques that are even more aligned with the organic principles. The Regulation should help organic farming flourish in every corner of the EU and adapt to our changing environment, rather than being a rigid rulebook that assumes one size fits all.

Our view is that provisions banning GMOs should be strong and based on the principle that the polluter pays: the cost of testing or labelling to enable shoppers to find food produced without GMOs should fall on non-organic businesses that sell and use them, not on organic farmers and processors.

Where international private standards have been developed for products that cannot be accommodated in the organic regulation (e.g. textiles and cosmetics) we want to see these recognised in other EU laws as providing the guarantee that consumers require.

For mass catering, we want the development and application of rules to remain with each member state because there is little cross-border trade and the markets in different countries are at very different stages of development.We want a new Organic Action Plan that commits the Commission and Member States to improving how they enforce the Organic Regulation and strengthens the delivery of all aspects of organic farming policy. There should also be a clear commitment to dedicated research to support the development of organic food and farming.

The deadline to complete the online questionnaire and send in any comments is 10 April 2013.

 






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