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Historical background

In 1991 the European Council of Agricultural Ministers adopted Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91pdf on organic farming and the corresponding labelling of agricultural products and foods. At the time, the introduction of this Regulation was part of the reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy. At first, the organic Regulation only regulated plant products. Additional provisions for the production of animal products were introduced later. These rules covered animal feed, prevention of illness, veterinary treatment, animal protection, livestock breeding in general and the use of livestock manure.

The use of genetically modified organisms and products produced from them was expressly excluded from organic production. At the same time, the import of organic products from third countries whose production criteria and systems of control could be recognised as equivalent to those of the EU was approved.

As a result of this ongoing process of supplementation and amendment of European legislation, the provisions contained in Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91 have became very complex and extensive.

The level of importance that the original EU organic Regulation enjoyed laid in the fact that it created common minimum standards for the entire EU. In this process, the confidence of consumers, who could purchase organic products in all member states with the certainty that these products fulfilled the same minimum requirements, was strengthened. It was left up to the member states and private organisations to enact their own additional stricter standards if necessary.