EU's Agriculture and Rural Development agency signed an equivalency agreement with the US Department of Agriculture to jointly promote strong organic programs, protect organic standards, enhance cooperation, and facilitate trade in organic products.
The arrangement will expand market access for organic producers and companies by reducing duplicative requirements and certification costs on both sides of the ocean while continuing to protect organic integrity.
"This monumental agreement will further create organic jobs in the growing and healthy U.S. organic sector, spark additional market growth, and be mutually beneficial to farmers both in the United States and European Union as well as to consumers
who choose organic products," says Christine Bushway, Executive Director and CEO of the U.S.-based Organic Trade Association. "Equivalence with the EU will be an historic game changer."
As a result, as of June 1, certified organic products can move freely between the US and EU. The EU will recognize the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to the EU Organic Program and allow products produced and certified as meeting USDA NOP standards to be marketed as organic in the EU.
Likewise, the US will allow European products produced and certified under the EU Organic Program to be marketed as organic in the US.
The agreement is limited to organic products of U.S. or EU origin produced, processed or packaged within these jurisdictions. Additionally, both programs have agreed to exchange information on animal welfare issues, and on methods to avoid contamination of organic products from genetically modified organisms.
General country labeling requirements must still be met.
Canada just began enforcing its organic foods law last year, after approving an organic foods certification process in 2009. That year, Canada and the U.S. announced the world's first organic equivalency agreement, allowing for trade of organic products between the two countries.
In June 2011, the EU added Canada to its "third country list," recognizing Canadian organic products and certification as valid for import into the EU. - Sustainable Business