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Brussels, 6 February 2003

Organic farming: Commission asks public to have their say

The European Commission has today launched an Internet consultation about the future of organic farming. Based on a working document that analyses the possibility of a European action plan for organic food and farming, members of the public have the opportunity to voice their opinions on questions like: How do we ensure that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) supports the development of organic farming, and the traceability and authenticity of organic food? How do we reinforce the use of the EU organic farming logo? The working document, which proposes a number of ideas for this future action plan, also aims to describe the development of organic farming in the EU and analyse where bottlenecks exist in production and marketing processes. On the basis of the information received through the online consultation, and following discussion with Member States and other stakeholders, the Commission will develop proposals for a future action plan before the end of 2003.

"Organic farming lies close to the heart of many consumers. This online consultation provides them with the opportunity to voice their opinions on a future action plan for organic farming. This is another step to make the CAP more transparent and consumer oriented." said Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries.

The sixth Community Environment Action programme, the sustainable development strategy that was outlined at the Göteburg summit, and the Environmental Integration Strategy of the Agriculture Council all emphasise the importance of organic farming, its positive contribution to the environment and the need for it to be supported inter alia by the CAP. Therefore, the main elements identified in the working paper are:

  • Developing and facilitating various systems for sales of organic produce,

  • Targeting organic farming to environmentally sensitive areas,

  • Encouraging the exchange of technical information between farmers,

  • Ensuring that the CAP supports the development of organic farming,

  • Ensuring traceability and authenticity of organic food,

  • Reinforcing the use of the EU logo,

  • Providing access to information on additional inspection requirements where they exist,

  • Harmonising testing methods, control procedures, supervision and accreditation together with ensuring efficient co-operation between all actors involved in the inspection system, including Community inspections,

  • The implementation of appropriate standardised procedures to ensure that imported products respect both fair competition with EU products and EU commitments regarding developing countries,

  • The establishment of a body for delivering independent, high quality and transparent advice on which production methods, substances etc can be accepted in order to assure conformity with the principles of organic farming,

  • The collection and communication of official statistical data on production , consumption, and trade (EU exports and imports) on a more permanent basis,

  • The effective funding of research into organic farming from the point of view of food safety and quality, including expanding research into the development of new products and processing methods and the environmental sustainability of organic farming, and into comparative studies between organic and conventional food.

A summary of the results of the online consultation will be published online during summer 2003. The Commission will bring forward the final action plan at the end of the year. The public has until the 16th March 2003 to submit their reactions and ideas.

To consult the document and take part in the survey, please go to:

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