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March 30, 2006

Recommendations for the revision of the Council regulation on organic production

In December 2005 the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a new regulation on organic production.

In order to qualify the discussion following the adoption, the Organic Revision project nominated three contested areas that needed further analyses.


Contents

> Different perspectives and interests in the proposal and the need of regulation
> Areas that need to be further analysed in order to get a secure basis for decisions
> Immediate input concerning objectives and principles (Title II) of the new regulation
> Examination and discussion at the Joint European Congress


Different perspectives and interests in the proposal and the need of regulation

In order to provide an understanding for the different views reflected by various stakeholder groups at least three different perspectives with different interests in Organic Food & Farming has been identified:


  1. “The organic movement” with focus on the reproduction and promotion of organic ideas and values. Organic Agriculture is good and has its own meaning.

  2. “The organic market” with focus on Organic Agriculture as a market opportunity for interested traders and consumers. Organic Products are different: branding, transparent and “free trade” to ensure optimal price setting.

  3. “The organic alternative” with focus on Organic Agriculture as an alternative to the mainstream agriculture – should deliver public goods e.g. environment and animal welfare. Organic Agriculture is good because it can deliver more public goods.

Each perspective entails a certain understanding of Organic Food and Farming with certain concepts and values and a particular logic or rationality

Ideally the Council Regulation should take into account all major perspectives on organic agriculture within EU in order to make the most suitable regulation for production, trade and consumption of organic products in EU.

In the current version of the proposal the market perspective is considered very well. The other two perspectives are mentioned, but it is particularly difficult to see where the organic movement perspective and organic values are taken into account.


Areas that need to be further analysed in order to get a secure basis for decisions

The overall objective of Organic Revision is to provide recommendations for revision and further development of the EU regulation. In order to make its work as relevant as possible in relation to this objective, the projects has nominated three contested areas that need to be further analysed in order to provide a more secure basis for decisions on regulation:

  1. How local is local – the issue of distant trade

  2. Organic (in)dependency – inputs and integrity of OA

  3. Intensification of organic food and farming – animal health & welfare, product quality

These issues have been refocused as a consequence of the discussion on the Commission's draft.


Immediate input concerning Title II

In order to accommodate the most urgent needs, the project (Alrøe and Padel) has already provided preliminary comments on Title II of the EC Proposal.

The conclusions are in short:

  • The term objectives and principles should be defined in article 2
  • It should be considered to extend Title II to cover the whole food chain including trade
  • Objectives (Art. 3) should be broader. It should include point 5 and 17 in the explanatory memorandum, Article 5b, as well as social objectives
  • Principles (Art. 4) should include a systems approach as first priority and not only focus on input
  • Organic actors and other stakeholders should be involved in formulating objectives and principles
  • Further comments must depend on change in objectives etc

  • Download the preliminary comments (PDF)



Examination and discussion at the Joint European Congress

At the Joint European Organic Congress the Organic Revision project conducted a theme with sessions on:

  • The Proposed Council Regulation
  • How local is local – the issue of distant trade
  • Intensification and conventionalisation in Organic Food and Farming
  • Rules, flexibility and regional variations