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Green light for new EU rules on organic food

Green light for new EU rules on organic food

Organic food

(STRASBOURG) - Euro-MPs gave the green light Thursday to a new law on organic food production and labelling, with a view to boosting organic production and ensuring that only high-quality organic food is sold in the EU.

"Parliament's vote will give more certainty and clarity to both EU farmers and consumers," said rapporteur Martin Hausling: "The new EU law will improve quality of organic food in the EU but will also help to address the needs of a fast-growing organic market."

The main features include:

Ensure high quality of organic food

  • Strict, risk-based checks will take place along the supply chain. Thanks to Parliament's insistence, checks will be carried out on-site and for all operators, at least annually or once every two years if no fraud has been found in the last three years.
  • Imports will have to comply with EU standards. Current "equivalence" rules, requiring non-EU countries to comply with similar but not identical standards, will be phased out within five years.

Boost EU organic food production

  • Increasing supply of organic seeds and animals to meet the needs of organic farmers: derogations allowing the use of conventional seeds and animals in organic production should expire in 2035.
  • Mixed farms, to encourage conversion: farms producing both conventional and organic food would be allowed, on condition that the two farming activities are clearly and effectively separated.
  • Easier certification for small farmers: group certification would save small farmers time and money when turning organic.

Avoid contamination from chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilisers

  • Precautionary measures: farmers and other operators in the food supply chain will be obliged to apply a set of new measures to avoid contamination; if a non-authorised pesticide or fertiliser is suspected to be present, the final product should not bear the organic label until further investigation; if contamination was deliberate or the operator failed to apply precautionary measures, the product will lose its organic status.
  • Member states that currently apply thresholds for non-authorised substances in organic food, such as pesticides, could continue to do so, if they allow other EU countries' organic foodstuffs complying with EU rules to access their markets.

Four years after entry into force of this regulation, the Commission would report back on how efficient the EU anti-contamination rules and national thresholds are and, if need be, come up with a draft law to harmonise them.

The agreed text still needs to be formally approved by the Council of EU ministers before it can enter into force. It will then apply from 1 January 2021.

Further information, European Parliament

Adopted text will soon be available here (19.04.2018)

More detailed information about the new EU rules - background note

Procedure file

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