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Equivalence for organics – historic agreement reached between the US and Europe

Posted 16 February 2012 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Ecolabel News.

The USDA and European Union have reached an agreement on organic food trade to mutually recognise each other’s standards. This means that as of June 1, 2012,  US producers with certified organic products can now sell in Europe, and vice versa. So as long as the terms of the arrangement are met, organic products certified to the USDA organic or European Union (EU) organic standards may sold, labeled, and represented as organic in both countries.

Only organic products of U.S. or EU origin are included – that is products that have been either been produced within the U.S. or EU or whose final processing or packaging occurs within the U.S. or EU.  So foreign sources are allowed, so long as its been processed or packaged (and therefore certified) in the US or EU.

NPR report that USDA officials predict that US organic exports to Europe will triple within three years.

Two notable exclusions point to some differences between the standards:

1. US crops produced using antibiotics (streptomycin for fire blight control in apples and pears) must not be shipped to the EU under the arrangement.

2. European Agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics shall not be marketed as organic in the United States.

It’s great to see that they didn’t let those differences hold up the final agreement, and that ongoing work will be done between the programmes to bring the standards closer.