In order to increase consumers’ confidence in organic products and to encourage the development in this sector the members of the Council of the European Union informally negotiated new rules last Wednesday.
With a view to increase consumers’ confidence:
• On the insistence of the Parliament strict control throughout the whole process of shipment, based on the evaluation of the risk, shall be exercised on the spot over all operators at least once a year or once every two years provided that no fraudulent activities were detected during the last three years.
• The important products shall be in compliance with the European standards: the applicable agreements with third states on similar but not identical or equivalent standards for the import of organic products shall be terminated in the following five years. In order to avoid an abrupt suspension of the deliveries, the European Commission may allow the import of specific products that do not meet the European standards for a period of two years, that may be extended (e.g. due to specific climate conditions).
• Pesticide pollution:
The farmers will be obliged to apply precautionary measures against pollution. If there are any doubts about the use of non-authorized pesticides or fertilizer the final product shall not be labeled as an organic until an investigation is carried out. In case the pollution was deliberate or the farmer failed to comply with the new precautionary measured, the product may lose its status as an organic product.
• The member states that have already established thresholds for non -authorized substances in the production of organic food such as pesticides will be able to maintain them provided that they permit the import of organic food from other member states that meet the requirements of the European Law.
• Four years after the entry into force of the new rules the Commission will come forward with a report about the efficiency of European legislation on the pollution of food products and the national thresholds and if necessary will provide a draft for new harmonizing rules.
In order to encourage the production of organic food in the European Union:
• Increase in the supply of organic seeds and animals, bred in organic environment: the improved data management about the supply of organic seeds and animals, bred in organic environment, is expected to increase the demand for them and to meet the needs of the farmers. The derogations allowing the use of conventional seeds and traditionally bred animals in the production of organic food shall not apply after 2035. However, this end date may be altered depending on the growth in the supply of organic seeds and animals bred in organic environment.
• Mixed farms: farms simultaneously producing traditional and organic food shall be permitted provided that their production is clearly and effectually separated.
• More accessible system for certification of small farmers: the new system of group certification is expected to attract more small farmers to the business with organic products.
The drafted text needs to be approved by the Council’s Special Committee on Agriculture, the European Parliament and the European Committee. It will enter into force on 1st of July 2020.
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