New organic ruling seeks to instil clarity

European Union ministers have reached agreement on a new regulation on organic production and labelling, which should be simpler for both farmers and consumers.

The new rules will lay down more explicitly the objectives, principles and production rules for organic production and include a new permanent import regime.

The use of the EU organic logo will be mandatory, but it can be accompanied by national or private logos. The place of origin must also be indicated on the label.

Food will only be able to carry an organic logo if 95% of the ingredients are organic, and non-organic products will only be entitled to indicate organic ingredients on the ingredient list.

The regulation will clarify rules about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and close the loophole under which the unintended presence of GMOs, above a 0.9% threshold, does not currently preclude the sale of produce as organic.

"This is an excellent agreement, which will help consumers to recognise organic products throughout the EU more easily and give them assurances of precisely what they are buying," said Mariann Fischer Boel, EU commissioner for agriculture and rural development.

"Organic food is a successful, growing market and I hope this new set of rules will provide the framework to allow this growth to continue - through a combination of market demand and the entrepreneurship of European farmers."