The European Union has been urged to safeguard the organic sector and not introduce measures that could threaten its development.
Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella body for European farmers and co-ops; the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT); and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) issued the appeal in a joint letter to EU farm ministers.
The groups — representing 23m farmers and 2.6m workers — specifically asked the ministers to harmonise procedures for pesticide contamination.
IFOAM EU director Marco Schlüter said organic farmers must be rewarded for their services to society and the environment, not punished for pesticides they have not introduced into the system. He said a decertification proposal is not only wrong-headed it could also jeopardise organic farmers who could not bear the financial risk entailed.
“In our opinion, this would threaten the peaceful co-existence of organic and conventional farmers in rural areas. As long as there are no harmonised rules at EU level on the facilities, methods and investigative parameters used by European laboratories, the implementation of such decertification thresholds would in practice not even be feasible,” he said.
Copa Cogeca secretary generlal Pekka Pesonen said the new EU regulation should support the development of the organic farming sector, ensuring that 250,000 producers could earn a living from their activities.
“The requirement to have yearly controls for organic farmers should be maintained, as it is a basis for consumer trust in organic farming and it is beneficial for farmers in relation to consumers. In the context of rapid changes to the EU regulation, the control bodies can also provide guidance to organic farmers that risk not being compliant with the legal requirements,” he said.
EFFA agriculture sector secretary Arnd Spahn said organic production is labour intensive providing millions of workplaces in Europe.
He called on the European Commission to support the development of organic food and farming in Europe, not to put it at risk through “unrealistic proposals.”
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