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The European Regulatory Framework and its implementation in influencing organic inspection and certification systems in the EU

Padel, Susanne; Vine, Jane; Huber, Beate; Stolze, Matthias; Jespersen, Lizzie Melby; Rüegg, Elisabeth; Meinshausen, Florentine; Puliga, Alessandro; Compagnioni, Antonio and Belliere, Samanta Rosie (editor): Padel, Susanne (Ed.) (2010) The European Regulatory Framework and its implementation in influencing organic inspection and certification systems in the EU. Organic Research Centre - Elm Farm, Hamstead Marshall.

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Summary

The report presents a review of the most important European and international legislation that set the framework for organic certification, of reports prepared by international agencies working with organic standard setting and certification, and of relevant scientific literature. It discusses problems, future challenges of the organic control systems in Europe leading to suggestions for improvement.
Food quality assurance is of key importance for the future development of the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU. A large number of mandatory and voluntary assurance and certification schemes exist for agriculture and in the food industry leading to the risk of increased costs for producers and confusion of consumers. Such schemes include the setting of requirements and bodies that undertake control and provide certificates. Requirements can be divided into statutory regulations regarding food safety and good agricultural practice and standards for voluntary attributes. Basic requirements of food safety, animal health and animal welfare are controlled by the Official Food and Feed Control (OFFC) systems, governed by Council Regulation (EC) 882/2004. Third party certification provides credibility to claims related to voluntary standards and is communicated to the consumers through the use of certification marks. The EU has developed a legislative basis for quality claims in relation to geographical indications, traditional specialities and organic farming and considers introducing labelling rules in relation to animal welfare, environmental impact and the origin of raw materials. Organic certification is one of a number of overlapping and competing schemes.
The development of organic standards and certification in Europe started with private standards and national rules, leading to Regulation (EEC) 2092/1991. The requirements for competent authorities, control bodies and operators in this regulation regarding the control systems are reviewed. The discussion highlights the low level of knowledge among consumers of the requirements of organic certification, a weak emphasis of the control system on operator responsibility for organic integrity, issues of competition and surveillance of control bodies, a lack of consideration of risk factors in designing the inspection systems and a lack of transparency.
A total revision of the European Regulations on organic production began in 2005. One important change introduced by the new Council Regulation (EC) 834/2007 for
Organic Food and Farming is that the organic control system is placed under the umbrella of Council Regulation (EC) 882/2004 on Official Food and Feed Controls. Regulation (EC) 834/2007 also requires that control bodies have to be accredited according to general requirements for bodies operating product certification systems (ISO Guide 65/EN 45011). From July 2010 packaged organic products will have to carry the new EU logo as well as the compulsory indication of the control body. The report reviews the requirements for competent authorities, control bodies and operators from the various legal sources. The discussion highlights a lack of clarity on the impact of the OFFC regulation on the organic control system including how risk based inspections are to be implemented and the potential for in-consistencies in the enforcement of the regulation.
A number of international initiatives concerned with the harmonisation of organic standards and to a lesser extent certification are reviewed, such as the International Task Force on Harmonisation and Equivalence (ITF)1
Two main alternative guarantee systems for organic production have been developed and researched by a number of organisations including IFOAM, ISEAL, FAO and the EU Commission. Smallholder Group Certification based on an Internal Control System (ICS) and Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) could also represent ways to minimize certification costs also for European farmers, in particular for operators that market directly or through very short supply chains. Both systems also illustrate examples of certification systems with a focus on system development and improvement. , the European Organic Certifiers Council (EOOC), the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL) and the Anti-Fraud Initiative (AFI). The multilateral initiatives have led to a better understanding of current problems and the scope and limitations for harmonisation. They have also contributed to the sharing of tools and methods and the identification of best practice.
Apart from organic farming the European Union has two other food quality schemes: Regulation (EC) 510/2006 on geographical indications and Regulation (EC) 509/2006 on traditional specialities. The report explores the potential for combining these with organic certification, and draws lessons for organic certification based on Italian experience.
The final chapter summarises problems and challenges from the previous chapters. Suggestions for improvements of the organic control system focus on two issues: the need for further harmonisation of the surveillance of control bodies and enforcement of the regulation and how operators’ responsibility for further development of organic systems could be supported in the control and certification system.


EPrint Type:Report
Subjects: Values, standards and certification > Regulation
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > International Cooperation
European Union > CertCost
UK > Organic Research Centre (ORC) - Elm Farm
Deposited By: Huber, Beate
ID Code:18359
Deposited On:02 Mar 2011 16:44
Last Modified:09 Mar 2011 11:31
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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