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Concerns expressed over impact of revision of EU food and feed controls on organic sector

August 14, 2013

In an interview published on the website Organic-Market Info, a representative of the German organic control body Gesellschaft fr Ressourcenschutz, Dr Jochen Neuendorff, has expressed concerns over the implications for the organic sector of the EC proposals regarding full cost recovery for food and feed controls across all food operations. The EC proposals would extend to all food product cost recovery measures already in place for inspections in the livestock sector, and would establish a uniform legal framework for the implementation of official controls. It has, however, been acknowledged by EC staff that the proposals are linked to budgetary pressures on competent authorities in EU member states that have been reducing inspection frequencies because of insufficient resources.

Dr Neuendorff argued that the new system of official controls being proposed will impact profoundly on existing private-sector-based organic recognition schemes, with official controls that are based on production processes being replaced by controls based on product analysis. He maintained that this means that existing organic control systems will be virtually eliminated from the EU Organic Regulation in future and that the focus on product analysis means that practical work in the fields and in processing will fall increasingly by the wayside. Existing organic control bodies will simply be carrying out organic inspections as delegated bodies of the competent authority.

Similar views were expressed by the Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren (BNN), which represents German organic retailers, processors and wholesalers. Other commentators have expressed concerns that the transfer of responsibility away from the EC Directorate-General for Agriculture to the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers will result in a loss of agricultural expertise within the control process. On the basis of these anxieties, the EU organic industry is seeking to amend the EC proposals.

In terms of external trade, Dr Neuendorff was concerned that, in the context of existing weaknesses at the level of official control systems in third countries, if organic control becomes a state-run obligation in countries outside the EU, we can expect to see some real problems.

Meanwhile, food processors in the EU have expressed unease over the soaring costs of official inspections as a consequence of the EC proposals. The proposed changes are scheduled to take effect in 2016.