An agreement signed in Nuremberg on Wednesday (15 February) will unite the organic food certification systems of the United States and the EU, eliminating the red tape in obtaining two certifications even though requirements in both blocs were roughly the same.
From 1 June organic products certified in the US or EU may be sold in either region. The two markets make up 90% of world organic consumption and are valued at a combined €40 billion. Organic production in the EU has enjoyed 6% annual growth for the last decade, and the European Commission expects the market to grow significantly as a result of the agreement.
Dacian Cioloş, the European commissioner for agriculture, said the agreement “improves transparency on organic standards, and enhances consumers’ confidence and recognition of our organic food and products”.
Previously organic growers had to obtain separate certification for both blocs, with a double set of fees, inspections, and paperwork. The only significant difference between the EU and US systems was that the US allows the use of antibiotics only in organic apple and pear orchards, to control invasive bacterial infections, while the EU allows them only to treat infected animals. Under the agreement, all uses of antibiotics are prohibited.
The Commission said that thorough on-site audits were conducted ahead of the agreement to ensure that the US regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements and labelling practices were compatible. The two sides will continue to review each others’ programmes periodically to ensure continued compatibility.