Stricter rules for organic farming demanded

Results of public consultation on future of organic farming highlight demand for stricter rules at EU level

Consumers’ trust in organic products together with a demand for stricter rules at EU level, are among the main elements coming out of the report on the public consultation on the future of organic farming published by the European Commission.

The online consultation, which took place in the first half of 2013, returned nearly 45,000 responses from people who have some interest in organic farming. Of those, the majority (56%) came from France, followed by Italy (15%), from Belgium (4%) and from Germany (3%). Other countries were represented with less than 2% each. 96% of respondents were citizens of which more than 60% characterised themselves as regular consumers of organic food. The remaining responses represent a number of different stakeholders of the organic sector. The report’s highlights were:

    The EU logo is well recognised (79%)
  • Consumers trust organic products (71 %)
  • Consumers buy organic products mainly out of concern for the environment (83%), and because they are free from GMOs and pesticide residues (81%).
  • The vast majority (78%) also indicated that they were prepared to pay more for organic goods.
  • There was a very strong demand for harmonized rules at EU level, with 74 % of all respondents requesting European organic standards to be strengthened and 86% wishing organic rules to be uniform across the EU.
  • More than half of the interviewees also strongly required an improvement to the European control system for organic products.
  • Local feed for animals. 49% stated that organic livestock should be fed 100% feed from the farm or region, 27% opting for setting a minimum percentage from farm or region. 16% said it could come from anywhere, provided it was good quality.
  • The majority (66%) wanted legislation to boost European production of protein crops
  • End to derogations? Most (61%) were against keeping exemptions from the production rules for specific conditions.
  • More than 60% strongly insisted on strengthening animal welfare standards
  • No pesticides. 73% and 67% of respondents requested that pesticides and additives respectively should not be allowed in organic farming. 61% wanted testing of organic products for pesticide residues
  • Measurement of environmental performance. 61% requested processors and traders to implement environmental management systems to monitor environmental performance.
  • Yes to group certification. 70% were in favour of permitting group certification in the EU
  • More info required! 94% requested more information on organic products
  • More research! Four areas were identified which could benefit from more research and innovation in the organic sector were; Economic and social dimension of organic farming, seeds and plant propagating material adapted to low-input agriculture, local production of protein-rich crops and waste management.

The results of the public consultation will feed the ongoing review of the political and legal framework for organic agriculture in Europe, with an overall strategy to be put forward in early 2014.

Read the report and its executive summary here

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