EU and US roll out gold standard for 'organic' food

16.02.12 @ 09:28

  1. By Nikolaj Nielsen
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BRUSSELS - Organic goods produced in the United States and in Europe will be sold and certified under the same "organic" label in both markets after a trade deal signed on Wednesday (15 February).

  • Ciolos called it a step forward in EU-US "agricultural relations" (Photo: wikipedia)

Previously, both European and US farmers had to obtain separate certifications. A European farmer, for instance, wishing to sell organic food in the US would have had to obtain a US "organic" label and vice-versa.

Under the new deal, which is to be launched in June, producers on both sides of the Atlantic will have one standard and one certificate issued by existing US or EU national authorities.

Meats, cereals, and wines receiving organic certification in one region can be sold as organic in the other.

"Organic farmers and food producers will benefit from easier access, with less bureaucracy and less costs, to both the US and the EU markets, strengthening the competitiveness of this sector," said EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos in Nuremberg, Germany where the deal was inked.

The organic industry in the US and Europe is worth a combined €40 billion a year.

According to the European Commission, both regions account for 90 percent of global organic consumption. In the EU, the market had a six percent annual growth in the past decade.

Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, a senior US trade representative, said the new deal would "lead to more jobs in this important sector for both America and Europe."

The two sides agreed that each other's standards were almost identical after two years of inspections.

But slight variations mean not all organic produce can be freely exported.

US organic pears and apples, for instance, do not qualify. Nor do some EU organic meats and fish, which are sometimes exposed to antibiotics - strictly prohibited under the new agreement.

All organic products will have a label identifying where they are from and who certified them so that regulators can track compliance with the new regime.

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