U.S. and Europe Find Common Ground on Organics
In an outbreak of peace in the food world, the United States and European Union (EU) have agreed to accept one another’s definitions of "organic" so that food labeled as such by either can be sold on both turfs.
The Grocer claims "the EU and the U.S. are the world’s largest producers of organic food." Foodanddrinkeurope.com quotes Organic Monitor’s clarification, however, that they are "the largest consumers of organic food, but not the main producers of organic crops."
Free trade is expected to start June 1, eliminating previous requirements for separate certifications. Organic Monitor observed that consumers should benefit from stable — and potentially lower — prices as a result of both an improved supply-demand balance and greater product variety.
Reducing bureaucracy and costs while increasing competitiveness are objectives cited by Dacian Ciolos, EU Agriculture Commissioner. "Organic farmers and food producers will benefit from easier access; in addition, it improves transparency on organic standards and enhances consumers’ confidence and recognition of our organic food and products," he said, adding that there would now be "less bureaucracy and less cost, strengthening the competitiveness of this sector" according to The Grocer.
U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan told McClatchy Newspapers and NPR, "It’s been the apple of our eye for a long time. … Getting to this point meant getting over some prejudices … many Europeans had the feeling that U.S. standards were probably too permissive for the benefit of big organic agribusiness. U.S. officials, for their part, didn’t think the Europeans did enough verification to make sure farmers actually follow the rules."
One difference remaining concerns antibiotic usage. While American rules prohibit the use of antibiotics other than controlling bacterial infections in apple and pear orchards, EU regulations allow them for treating animals. As a result, no meat or milk from animals treated with antibiotics can be imported and sold in the U.S. as organic, NPR and McClatchy stressed.
- EU and US agree landmark organic standards deal – The Grocer
- US, Europe agree to accept each other’s organic produce – McClatchy
- Coming soon to your grocery aisle: organic food from Europe – NPR
- US-EU trade deal could benefit organic manufacturers, stabilize prices – Food and Drink Europe
Discussion Questions: Will the agreement by the U.S. and European Union to accept each other’s organic standards open up sourcing and marketing opportunities for retailers in this country? How can retailers use this opportunity to their advantage?