The European Commission presented today a long-awaited proposal to revise EU legislation on organic farming. In a context of growing organic consumption, the European Commission and Ciolos, European Commissioner for Agriculture, proposed to implement a review of most recent European organic regulation from 2007.
José Bové, Vice- Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament commented the following :
« The reason for this revision is that consumer confidence is at risk due to the lack of transparency of trade of organic products and effectiveness of controls. In addition, the fact that the demand for organic products increases while the offer of such products of EU origin does not grow -in fact it decreases-, highlights the need to harmonize support to organic farmers in the EU.
Let us recall the scandals that have made the headlines on the origin of agricultural products and pre-cooked meals. Organic farming should not be a victim of similar crises.
Public authorities need to guarantee the continuous monitoring of products as well as sensible regulation of the conversion criteria (duration, public support, specific adaptations to small farms and small businesses). Intermediaries or retail chains, who frequently adapt lower standards depending on the growth in demand, should not have the power to set standards.
The European Commission proposes to strengthen product-control on pesticide residues and suggests reducing the number of exceptions for certain ingredients and forms of organic production. Regulation must also take into account the difficulty of organic farming without residue if conventional neighbors do not take precautionary measures against possible pollution. The cost of additional testing should not be paid by organic producers. We should rather apply the principle of ‘polluter pays’ for cases when pesticides were identified in the tests. That is why the economic responsibility of unintentional or external pollution leading to product recalls and economic losses for producers in organic farming should be covered and compensated under the responsibility of the author or actor responsible for the damage. We consider this to be an essential point during the discussions. »