Brussels briefing: EU residue rules could 'punish' organic farmers
Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30
EU negotiators and farmers' groups are gearing up for an organic food fight.
This autumn will see a last-ditch effort to save draft rules for the fast-growing organic food industry, which have been bogged down by legal and political wrangling since they were tabled more than two years ago.
The share of organic land in the EU has not kept up with the market for organic products, which has quadrupled in the last 10 years, according to the European Commission.
It wants to update a 2007 law to make it easier to switch to organic farming, and to reassure consumers following organic food fraud scandals in Italy and beyond.
Ireland has one of the lowest shares of organic farming in the EU, with around 1pc of total agricultural land dedicated to organic farming, compared to an EU average of close to 6pc. Slovakia's agriculture ministry is pressing Ireland and other EU countries for feedback on the draft rules for a paper it is drawing up ahead of two key meetings at the end of September.
Negotiations broke off this spring after near-agreement was reached on fraud checks and the certification of organic products and imports, but divisions persist over how to deal with GMO and pesticide residues in organic food and feed.
The Commission wants to set strict limits on residues, which, if exceeded, would result in a farmer being stripped off his organic certification.
But farmers' groups - as well as MEPs and EU governments - oppose legal limits, saying most contamination occurs accidentally from neighbouring farms or during transport and storage.