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Brussels, 9 January 2004

European Hearing on Organic Food and Farming

On 22 January 2004 the European Commission will hold a 'European Hearing on Organic Food and Farming Towards a European Action Plan' in Brussels. The main purpose of this hearing is to listen to the views of the widest possible range of stakeholders, including experts in the agricultural, environmental and consumer field and to gather experiences from pilot initiatives. Following this public hearing, the Commission will prepare an Action Plan in the form of a Communication to the European Council and Parliament, including a list of possible actions to boost organic farming. The Brussels hearing is to provide the Commission with the most complete and appropriate guidance from stakeholders with a view to drawing up this Action Plan. Commissioner Franz Fischler will hold a press conference at the end of the hearing, at 6pm in the Centre Borschette (details see below).

Commenting on the hearing, Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries said: "There are important questions we need to address. How, for example, can we boost trade and consumption of organic products in the EU? How can we facilitate production and processing? How can we ensure traceability and organic authenticity and, linked to this, how can we support the co-existence of organic farming with either conventional methods or genetically modified agriculture? I hope that this hearing will provide us with valuable input to answer these questions".

Over a 100 stakeholder organisations, Agricultural Ministers from Member States, Acceding and Candidate Countries and the press will be invited to participate in this conference.

In the morning, two panels with stakeholder experts will hold discussions on the place of organic farming in European agriculture and in the wider European society. The final session in the afternoon will conclude on the morning's discussions.

Further details, including documentation and the provisional programme, can be found on DG Agriculture's web-page on the Europa server:

Registration for the hearing should preferably be undertaken via the following web-page:

Those members of the press who wish to participate should also indicate whether they intend to be present for the whole hearing or whether they intend to be present only at the press conference by sending an email to the Organic Hearing mailbox


08h00 - 09h00

Registration of participants


09h15 09h45Welcome and introduction

    Mr Joe Walsh, Minister for Agriculture and Food, Ireland

    Mr Franz Fischler, Member of the European Commission responsible for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries

09h45 11h30Session 1 The place of organic farming in European agriculture

Introduction by Chairman Mr Corrado Pirzio-Biroli, Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Franz Fischler

    "What do consumers expect from organic farming?" Mr David Byrne, Member of the European Commission responsible for Health and Consumer Protection

    "What do organic farmers expect from policy makers?" Mr Francis Blake, president of IFOAM-EU

    "From farm supply to consumer packages, challenges for the processing industry"  Mrs Marina Mastromauro, Pasta GRANORO of Corato

    "How can we optimise the market?"  Mrs Maria Itziar Aguirre Jiménez, University of Sevilla

Questions from the audience and open discussion.

11h30 11h40Coffee break
11h40 13h15Session 2 The place of organic farming in the wider European society

Introduction by Chairman Mr Dirk Ahner, Deputy Director-General, DG Agriculture

    "Are the organic consumer labels conveying the right message?" Mr Toralf Richter, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)

    "Marketing and distribution concepts - the view of the supermarket" Mr Tony Sullivan, Sainsbury's

    "Can the organic standards continue to meet societal demands?" Mr Raffaele Zanoli, University of Ancona

    "Coexistence with GMOs and organic seed production" Mrs Birte Boelt, Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming (DARCOF)

Questions from the audience and open discussion

13h15 15h30Lunch break. Buffet lunch with the participation of Mr Franz Fischler

16h00 18h00

Session 3 Concluding session

Introduction by Chairman Mr José Manuel Silva Rodríguez, Director-General, DG Agriculture

    Reports from the morning sessions by the two Chairmen

    The key issues: Mr Nicolas Lampkin, University of Wales

Questions from the audience and open discussion

    Closing remarks by Mr Franz Fischler

General information

    Date  :  22 January 2004

    Hearing venue

European Commission 

Conference Centre Albert Borschette

Room 0A (conference room) Room 0B (press conference)

Rue Froissart 36

B-1040 Brussels

Tel. +32/2/2958700 or +32/2/2952659

Fax. + 32/2/2955690

    Welcome desk

A Welcome Desk will be at the disposal of all participants at the Hearing on 22 January from 07h00 until 19.00.


No registration fee will be requested for participation at the conference. The European Commission will not be able to reimburse any expenses incurred in relation to this Hearing.


Participants are invited to a buffet lunch with the participation of Commissioner Fischler.


Simultaneous interpretation will be provided from English, French, German, Spanish and Italian into the same languages during the hearing and during the press conference.

    Contact person

Frank Leguen de Lacroix

Head of Information Policy on Agriculture and Rural Development

Phone 32-2-2952963

Fax 32-2-2991761

Email :

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