What is organic farming?
To achieve this, organic farming relies on a number of objectives and principles, as well as common practices designed to minimise the human impact on the environment, while ensuring the agricultural system operates as naturally as possible.
Typical organic farming practices include:
- Wide crop rotation as a prerequisite for an efficient use of on-site resources
- Very strict limits on chemical synthetic pesticide and synthetic fertiliser use, livestock antibiotics, food additives and processing aids and other inputs
- Absolute prohibition of the use of genetically modified organisms
- Taking advantage of on-site resources, such as livestock manure for fertiliser or feed produced on the farm
- Choosing plant and animal species that are resistant to disease and adapted to local conditions
- Raising livestock in free-range, open-air systems and providing them with organic feed
- Using animal husbandry practices appropriate to different livestock species
But organic farming is also part of a larger supply chain, which encompasses food processing, distribution and retailing sectors and, ultimately, you. Each link in this supply chain is designed to play an important role in delivering the benefits associated with organic food production across a wide range of areas detailed elsewhere on this website, including:
So every time you buy an organic apple from your local supermarket, or choose a wine made from organic grapes from the menu at your favourite restaurant, you can be sure they were produced according to strict rules aimed at respecting the environment and animals.
In the EU, these rules are laid down in:
- Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of or organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91 which has been amended since then by:
- Council Regulation (EC) No 967/2008 of 29 September 2008 amending Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products
In the amendment the Commission postpones the obligatory use of the EU organic logo on all pre-packaged organic food and the indication of the origin of the agricultural ingredients which has to accompany the logo until 1 July 2010.
More detailed rules on organic production, processing, distribution, labelling and controls have been adopted in the following EC regulation:
- Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008 of 5 September 2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products with regard to organic production, labelling and control
This regulation has been amended since then with new rules on organic yeast production by:
- Commission Regulation (EC) No 1254/2008 of 15 December 2008 amending Regulation (EC) 889/2008 laying down detailed rules for implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products with regard to organic production and labelling of organic products with regard to organic production, labelling and control
New rules on organic aquaculture and seaweeds are going to follow.
Logo and labelling
The current EU organic legislation sets out rules for plant and animal production and for the processing of food and feed to be labelled as organic. Compliance with the EU organic legislation is required for all products carrying the EU organic logo. In order to being able to trace organic products, the name or code number of the certification body that has certified the organic producer, has to be on the label.
To make it even easier to recognise organic food in shops, new labelling rules will apply from 1 July 2010 with a mandatory use of the EU organic logo on all pre-packaged organic food produced in the EU. The origin of the farmed ingredients has to be indicated together with the logo, and the code number of the certification body has to accompany the label.
In addition, you can find many private organic standards in the Member States. Most of these standards have their own organic logo. However, they have all as a minimum to apply the harmonised EU organic legislation.
Statistics show that many consumers in the EU are looking for products bearing these organic logos and labels when shopping for groceries or buying a meal in a restaurant or canteen.
Studies estimate that the market for organic products is growing by 10-15% a year.
Visit the consumer demand section for more information.