Organic Processing and Trade Association

EU and USDA changes in the regulation provide new challenges for trade and processing

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OPTA-OTA cooperation for harmonization will be expanded

At the same time the Organic Regulations in US and EU undergo serious changes that will be implemented in 2021. These expected changes are on the edge of being published for public consultation. Reason for a workshop at the BioFach Congress 2020, where OPTA and OTA presented their views on the challenges and the opportunities for the trade and processing sector.

Erkki Pöytäniemi from Organic Food Finland presented in the OPTA-OTA workshop at BIOFACH existing areas of disharmonized situation, like different residue handling approaches, antibiotics animal products, hydroponics, fortification of food and trade requirements in the context with third countries. And new ones are expected to pop up, like Ion Exchange and the compliance demand in the EU Regulation for third countries. And how will these changes affect the actual equivalence between US and EU organic regulations, that ends in 2024. Will it be renegotiated? Will new exemptions be taken up? A representative of a organic processing company raised a strong voice to overcome the differences. He mentioned specific the new Ion Exchange ban in the EU that makes him also impossible to produce proper organic products according the USDA legislation in the EU.  

Johanna Mirenda, policy advisor of OTA,  announced that the new USDA regulative requirements will be published within days. The most changes are in the area of ensuring organic integrity and fighting fraud. Some parts of the chain that were outside the organic control has to be certified and controlled according the new expected rules. And US will follow the example of the electronic certificate that is introduced successfully in the EU. And the accreditation and certification control will be enforced. She showed the private Quality Assurance program that is taken up at the start of this year by fifty OTA members and offered to make this program available in the EU as well. 

Robert Anderson, senior trade advisor at OTA, showed himself very positive about the leading role of EU and US to drive the organic market at global level. “And overcome the differences and realize a common understanding for harmonization would be a great opportunity to strengthen the progress of organic in the world.” He didn’t denied the differences and the works that has to bed done, but with political will and good cooperation between the organic sector in EU and US it must be possible. “Equivalency arrangements in organic are environmental and economic drivers. It improves the living conditions in local communities with 25% and show environmental benefits for the soil fertility, the climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration.”   

At the BioFach OTA and OPTA board and staff members evaluated their successful cooperation, that started a year ago. The cooperation will be enforced the coming year, specially on harmonization topics in the area of the regulation and the quality assurance topic.