More work needed on organic legislation says EU agriculture head

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fischer boel Organic farming Organic food Mariann fischer boel

Mariann Fischer Boel, member of the European Commission responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development, said the organic food sector needs the support of good legislation, which would help build consumer awareness and trust.

The EC member, who was speaking at the three-day BioFach World Organic Trade Fair 2009 in Nuremberg, Germany, which closed yesterday, said the organic sector still showed the energy and enthusiasm of youth. And over the last few years there had been work to update and improve legislation for organic food and farming in the European Union

However, Fischer Boel added that there was still some work to be done as the organic sector faced a number of challenges, in particular achieving a consensus on implementing rules for organic wine and aquaculture by the end of 2009.

European organic farmers have also been feeling the pressure of volatile agricultural prices and Fischer Boel said this meant it was not the time for “knee-jerk policy reactions”.

Instead she welcomed a "mid-term evaluation"​ in case there was clear evidence that we need to change course slightly.

The EC member also stressed there was a need to follow through with initiatives launched under the Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming, such as a promotion and awareness campaign.

She said: “One of the messages that we need to get across to consumers is that they can rely on products which claim to be "organic" and which come from other countries in the European Union (and from outside it).

“This is why a new European organic logo will be important; and this is why we need a logo which is really up to the job.”

Climate change was another challenge faced by organic farming that was highlighted by the EC member who said: “Let's keep using organic techniques as ammunition against the problem of climate change. Because let's be clear: if we want to hit our greenhouse gas targets, we need all the ammunition we can get. Again research and development will be of huge importance.”

Meanwhile Fischer Boel said that progress had been made in the organic sector as “know-how is advancing, long-term demand is growing and in terms of European legislation, the house is essentially built​”.

She told the trade fair: “At one point in 2007, I said that in legal terms we had built a ‘solid foundation’ – by agreeing the new Council Regulation.

“Now that we've also agreed most of the implementing rules, we have not only a foundation, but also walls and a roof – a house, in other words.”

Her comments come as a new report released last week from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) said that the amount of land dedicated to organic produce is growing due to government backing, or policy support, and market forces.

Worldwide, 32.2m hectares were certified according to organic standards in 2007 (the latest available statistics), which was 1.5m hectares more than the previous year, according to the study called: “The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2009”.

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