The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the future of organic agriculture which is open to all interested parties.
European organic production rules cover the whole production chain from farm to fork. Producers who follow the rules have the right to label their products ‘organic’ and to put the EU green leaf logo on packaging. The rules for organic production are set out in Regulation (EC) No 34/2007 and Regulation (EC) No 889/2008. Organic farming covers about 5% of the agricultural area of the EU but consumer demand is ever-increasing.
The consultation raises a number of key issues:
- Simplifying the legal framework, while maintaining standards.
- The co-existence of GM crops with organic farming
- Better control systems and trade arrangements for organic products.
- The impact of the new labelling rules (including the new EU logo on organic products).
Recent cases of fraud suggest a need for stronger controls and better enforcement of the rules. In addition, the rapid growth in international trade in organic products has revealed shortcomings that need to be addressed.
Question 4.5 asks whether ‘GMO-free’ is an important reason for buying organic and further questions probe consumer tolerance with levels of accidental GM contamination. It is to be hoped that these questions do not become a precursor to proposals that would permit higher levels of contamination or, worse still, the deliberate inclusion of GM ingredients in organic products.
The European Commission aims to bring forward proposals for the revision of the framework for organic agriculture around the end of 2013. Meanwhile, the consultation is open until 10 April 2013 and you can contribute using the online questionnaire. It should take no more than 15 minutes to complete, much less if you opt to respond only to the mandatory questions and all responses are anonymous.