The FAO recognises organic agriculture as one of several approaches to sustainable agriculture where almost all synthetic inputs are prohibited, and soil investment and crop rotation are mandated. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements has defined “organic farming” in 2012 as:
“…a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved”.
The EU organic market has increased fourfold over the last decade but the organic land only doubled for the period. The rules need to be updated and adjusted so that the sector can further develop and respond to future challenges.
The overall objective of the legislative framework, which was set a sustainable development of organic production, is currently not fully met.
The new legislative proposal on organic production and labelling of organic products (COM/2014/0180 final) and the new Action Plan for future of Organic Production in the EU (COM/2014/0179 final) focus on three main objectives: maintaining consumer confidence, maintaining producer confidence and making it easier for farmers to switch to organics.
The proposal, submitted to the European Parliament and to the Council, builds on the findings of a broad consultation process that started in 2012 and which included a series of hearings with EU and international experts on organic production. A public consultation carried out in 2013 met a strong interest from the public.
An evaluation was carried out in 2013 and examined in detail the different aspects of implementation
Frequently asked questions: Commission proposals for new rules for organic farming / European Commission, MEMO/14/215, 25/03/2014
The memo explains why the current policy should be reformed and what will be the changes related to the rules of production, changes in control systems, changes in trade in organic products. The priorities and actions of the New Action Plan which supports the growth of the organic farming sector, are outlined in the text.
EU Rural review No 18: ORGANIC REVIEW /ENRD, May 2014, 44p.
The monothematic issue of the EU Rural Review provides an overview of organic farming in Europe: how organic farming is moving into the mainstream, the new action plan for organic production in Europe, history of rural development support for organic farming. It focuses on the implications of the greening of the CAP for organic agriculture, initiatives to boost innovation, the sector’s role in supporting social inclusion and the environmental added value of the organic sector and finally, competitiveness and future prospects for global trade in organic products is considered.
Organic 3.0 – Trend and potential analysis of the future of organics / Hanni Rützler, H.; Reiter, W.. Zukunftsinstitut Österreich GmbH, 2014, 60p.
The first part of the study looks at evolution of organics over a period of 100 years. It describes megatrends – what effects does societal change have on the organics scene and drivers of the change (individualisation, connectivity, new-ecology, globalisation, health and mobility). Further it looks at global culture and daily organics.
Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses / Baranski, Marcin et al. 2014 In: British Journal of Nutrition, online, pp. 1-18.
The recent study found that concentrations of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were between 18-69% higher in organically-grown crops. Substantially lower concentrations of a range of the toxic heavy metal cadmium and significantly lower nitrogen concentration were found. The study also found that pesticide residues were four times more likely to be found in conventional crops.
Organic versus conventional farming, which performs better financially? An overview of organic field crop and milk production in selected MS / European Union, DG AGRI FADN, Farm Economics Brief No 4, November 2013, 10p.
The brief looks at the components of income of organic farmers in the field crop sector in Germany, Austria, France, Poland and Spain, and of the milk sector in Germany, Austria and France. It compares the financial performance of their farms with that of conventional.
Evaluation of the EU legislation on organic farming / Sanders, J. (ed.). European Union. 2013, 319p.
The report shows that the EU legislation on organic farming provides a sound basis for a sustainable development of organic production in the EU. However, the analysis also points to a number of areas where the regulatory framework could be improved. Six types of measures addressing two different fields of action can be derived: a) ensuring the adequacy of the legal provisions and b) increasing the effectiveness of the legal provisions.
EU Institutions’ views
Organics: Commission proposal for more and better / European Commission, press release IP/14/312, 25/03/2014
The EU organic market has quadrupled in size over the last 10 years and rules need to be updated and adjusted so that the sector can further develop and respond to future challenges. The proposal focuses on three main objectives: maintaining consumer confidence, maintaining producer confidence and making it easier for farmers to switch to organics.
European Parliament Legislative Observatory
2014/0100(COD), Organic production and labelling of organic products
Council of the European Union
Press release 11792/14, 3328th Council meeting Agriculture and Fisheries, Presse 395, Brussels, 14/7/2014 (provisional version)
The Presidency indicated that organic farming constitutes a priority in its work programme. The new rules proposed for organic production, especially extended use of delegated acts, limited exemptions and control systems raised concerns for a number of delegations.
New EU legislation for the organic sector must promote European organic production, / COPA-COGECA press release, 25/3/2014
IFOAM EU (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements)
IFOAM EU Position Paper on Residue Threshold in Organic Products, 26/2/2014
IFOAM EU recommends to delete amendments to Article 23(1)(d) and 23(4)(i) of the Commission proposal for a regulation on official controls on food and feed as provided for in Article 39(3) of the leaked Commission proposal for a new organic regulation.
IFOAM EU position on the organic regulation review / IFOAM, Brussels, 14/01/2014
The current legislative framework provides a solid basis for organic production and consumer confidence but its implementation potential is not yet fully exploited. IFOAM EU therefore recommends a focused improvement of the existing framework.
EOCC Statements on the proposal for the new organic EU regulation / EOCC, April 22, 2014, 3p.
The current draft for the new organic EU regulation does not meet the named revision goals in the following aspects: deleting the legal requirement for annual controls, group certification, estimated impact on the Organic Control system and import scheme.
The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistics and Emerging Trends / Willer, Helga; Lernoud, Julia. FiBL, IFOAM, 2014, 304p. Graphs and maps
The report documents recent developments in global organic agriculture. Organic agriculture is practiced in 164 countries, and more than 37.5 million hectares of agricultural land are managed organically by 1.9 million farmers.
Facts and figures on organic agriculture in the European Union / European Commission. Alfio Rodeghiero ; Organic Data Network, 11/2013, 44p.
This report gives an overview of organic agriculture in the EU based on the data available (up to 2011 year) and its evolution. The EU’s NMS have shown developments in the context of additional financing provided by the EU for this type of production since their accession.
A decade of EU-funded, low-input and organic agriculture research : (2000-2012) / Luxembourg: EUR-OP, 2012. European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. Biotechnologies, Agriculture, Food. 284p.