Legal frame on organic farming
LEGAL FRAME ON ORGANIC FARMING
As a result of constant additions and amendments to European law in the field of organic farming, in 2007 the Council Regulation (EC) n.° 834/2007 was introduced with the aim to ensure and develop an overall system of farm management that combines best environmental practices, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources, the application of high animal welfare standards and a production method in line with the preference of certain consumers.
On the one hand, organic production is related to a specific consumer demand and, on the other hand, it gives a contribution to the protection of the environment and animal welfare, as well as to rural development. Consequently, organic farming respects natural systems, and this means that internal resources are preferred to open cycles based on external resources.
The first European law on organic production was adopted in 1991 (Council Regulation (EEC) n.° 2092/91), and since then the share of the organic agricultural production has been increasing in most member states. In this perspective, the Community legal framework should provide conditions under which this sector can progress and maintain consumer confidence in products labelled as organic.
New rules about production, control, and labelling were established by the Council Regulation (EC) n.° 834/2007, and the previous Regulation (EEC) n.° 2092/91 was simultaneously repealed. Consequently, the new labelling rules related to the EU organic logo have applied since 1st July 2010. The new Council Regulation applies to the following agricultural products, including aquaculture and yeast:
- Living or unprocessed products;
- Processed food;
- Animal feed;
- Seeds and propagating material.
Wild plants and seaweed are included into the scope of the Regulation. Product from hunting and fishing of wild animals are not included in its scope.
In 2008 two Commission Regulations were adopted: (EC) N.° 889/2008 with detailed rules on production, labelling and control, and (EC)N.° 1235/2008 with detailed rules concerning import of organic products from third countries.
LABELLING ORGANIC FOOD
Since 1st July 2010 producers of packaged organic food have been required to use the UE organic logo, in order to create clarity for consumers throughout the Community market. Organic pre-packaged food produced within the Community should be related to the EU-logo. It should not be obligatory for all not pre-packaged organic products produced within the Community or other organic product imported from third countries. In those two cases, it should be possible to use the UE-logo on a voluntary basis. It is not allowed to use it in the labelling of processed foodstuffs of which less than 95% of its ingredients of agricultural origin are organic.
Organic products above mentioned may be labelled with both the EU-logo and national or private logos. If somebody were to use the UE organic logo, he would have to indicate the place where any farmed ingredients were produced. This is not a binding requirement for organic foods from non-EU countries.
In addition, next to the EU organic logo a code number of the control body is displayed, as well as the place where the agricultural raw materials composing the product have been farmed. The code number of the control body or control authority shall be placed in the same visual field as the EU organic logo. Indication of the place of farming should appear directly below the reference to the control body.
The code number of control bodies must appear on all products claiming to be organic, irrespective of the use of the logo. The place of farming is compulsory only when the logo is used.
According to the Community rules, control authorities and control bodies should not impose any addition control or financial burdens to the free movement of compliant products.
The use of GMOs in organic production is not allowed, considering that products produced from GMOs are incompatible with the concept of organic production. In this perspective, biological and mechanical production should be implemented without having recourse to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
IMPORTING OF ORGANIC PRODUCTS
If we were to place organic products on the Community market, we would have to demonstrate that those products have been produced in accordance with production rules laid down in Community legislation.
The import of organic products is strictly monitored by the EU Commission considering that those goods should be submitted to control arrangements and covered by a certificate issued by a recognized control authority of the third country concerned. And the assessment of equivalency with regards to imported products should be issued in the light of international standards laid down in Codex Alimentarius.
In this perspective, it’s important to maintain the list of third countries recognized by the Commission as having production standards and control arrangements, which are equivalent to those provided for in Community legislation.
The Commission should set up some control authorities ensuring control and certification in third countries, which are not included in the list above mentioned.