No need for alarm over leaked EU paper

Date Published: 12/02/2014

A leaked EU document said to contain new organic regulations should not be a cause for concern, according to a leading organic body.

An alleged draft of new proposals which emerged in recent days has led to a degree of alarm in the sector, but certification expert, Steve Clarkson, said any suggestions made in the document were still a long way from becoming reality.

OF&G Certification & Compliance Manager, Stephen Clarkson
OF&G Certification & Compliance Manager, Stephen Clarkson

An acknowledged specialist on the EU organic regulation, Steve, who is certification and compliance manager at Organic Farmers & Growers, stressed that a full consultation process across member states had yet to be carried out.

He explained: “There were a number of high profile reports about this document and what it contains but everyone should bear in mind that this was not even officially finalised material. When the Commission does publish its proposals, probably in March, even then that will be a starting point for negotiation within and across member states.

“We either already know or can make very educated guesses about the areas of production and processing which are likely to be addressed and we, like many other stakeholder groups, will continue feeding into that process, so that Defra can settle on a UK position to go back to the EU with.”

Key concerns voiced by commentators following the leak were around the parameters for local sourcing of feedstuffs (how regional is ‘regional’?) and whether producers would be allowed to operate both organic and non-organic operations as part of the same business.

Steve added: “Contrary to what some people would like many to think, this is a collaborative process which is about continuing the development of organic food and farming in the EU — about moving it forward in a way that serves the interests of consumers and producers alike. As we always do, we will keep our licensees and associates fully informed of developments when there is something solid to discuss. So, to be blunt, right now it’s a case of ‘keep calm and carry on’!”