By Lucia Rua
Since the Covid-19 crisis started, organic food production and consumption have skyrocketed in Europe . In fact, consumers are demanding more sustainable food production to protect their own health and wellbeing, but also the health of the planet . If this trend continues, it will be more likely to meet one of the European Green Deal’s main goals: have 25% of the land farmed organically by 2030 .
In the EU market, consumers can find a logo with a white leaf formed by stars on a green background on every organic product. But do they really know what is behind this label? In this article, we will introduce EU organic regulation and its logo.
Before the 1990s, in Europe, several private organic agriculture organisations, operating in different countries, regulated the organic sector and created their own logos . However, the EU realized that common regulation was missing. For this reason, in 1991, the EU started regulating the organic sector . The EU organic regulation is legally binding for all EU countries, and it aims to guarantee consumer confidence and ensure fair competition for all the farmers and operators at all stages of production .
The main rules that are listed in the EU organic regulation are the following : avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs); rely on green energies; maintain and improve soil fertility; avoid soil erosion; implement crop rotation; transform organic waste into resources; respect high animal welfare standards; only products with at least 95% by weight of organic ingredients can be labelled with the EU logo; the list of ingredients shall indicate which ingredients are organic; produce high-quality food; and promote rural development. Besides this, private and national logos operating in different EU countries must follow all the rules of the EU organic regulation as a benchmark, and their logos can be displayed next to the EU logo. Furthermore, the terms ‘biologic’, ‘ecologic’, and ‘organic’ are interchangeable and all of them, and their derivatives or diminutives, are protected under the EU organic regulation.
On the other hand, EU organic regulation is under constant improvement and includes additional regulations and implementing acts (e.g. relating to trade with third countries, and organic wine).
How are Organic Farmers, Producers and Distributors Inspected?
The control system of organic products has different stages. Firstly, national governments choose one or more competent authorities, which are the main bodies responsible for ensuring compliance with EU organic regulation in a particular country .
Then, the competent authorities can select one or more control authorities (public entities). These control authorities can choose one or more control bodies (private entities) to inspect operators in the organic food chain (see figure 1) . All organic operators are inspected at least once per year .
Figure 1 The control system of the organic production (author’s own elaboration)
The EU Organic Logo
In 2010, the EU organic logo came into force. This can only be used on products that have been certified as organic by an authorized control authority or body. This means that they have fulfilled strict conditions on how they are produced, transported and stored .
For this reason, below the logo (see example in figure 1), the code number of the control authority or body must appear, together with the place where the raw materials have been farmed: EU agriculture, non-EU agriculture, EU/non-EU agriculture, or the name of the country if all the ingredients come from a single place .
Figure 2 Examples of the EU organic logo
If you want to learn more about EU organic regulation, or how to become an organic farmer or producer, visit:
Willer, H., Trávnícek, J., Meier, C., and Schlatter, B.,2021, The world of organic agriculture 2021 statistics and emerging trends.Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, and IFOAM-Organics International, Bonn, https://www.fibl.org/fileadmin/documents/shop/1150-organic-world-2021.pdf (accessed: 04.09.2021).
European Commission, n.d., Organic action plan, https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/farming/organic-farming/organic-action-plan_en (accessed: 04.09.2021).
Morgera, E., Bullón Caro, C., & Marín Durán, G.,2012, Organic agriculture and the law, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
Pekdemir, C., 2018, On the regulatory potential of regional organic standards: towards harmonization, equivalence, and trade?, Global environmental change, 50, 289-302, doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.04.010.
European Commission, n.d., Organics at a glance, https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/farming/organic-farming/organics-glance_en (accessed: 06.09.2021).
Regulation 834/2007, Organic production and labeling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91, European Commission, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32007R0834 (accessed 24.09.2021).
Squatrito, S., Arena, E., Palmeri, R., & Fallico, B., 2020, Public and private standards in crop production: their role in ensuring safety and sustainability, Sustainability, 12(2), 1-16, doi:10.3390/su12020606.
European Commission, n.d., The organic logo, https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/farming/organic farming/organic-logo_en (accessed: 06.09.2021).