Outgunned by large industrial farm lobbying groups, organic producers, supported by conservation organisations, have risen up to defend some of the European Commission's proposals for a 'greener' Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The European Commission's investigation of organic agriculture provides an opportunity for long overdue critical scientific scrutiny, so that agricultural policies can be based on knowledge and not on ideology, writes Professor Anthony Trewavas of the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Edinburgh in a May commentary.
With the EU's future farm policy expected to have an increased focus on protecting biodiversity, promoting sustainable farming and achieving CO2 reduction goals, organic farming may be worth a closer look, EU officials said.
There are no important advantages in terms of health and nutritional benefits gained from eating organic food when compared to food produced using conventional techniques, says the UK’s Food Standards Authority (FSA), with the recent publication of a scientific study.
An annual monitoring report found traces of pesticides in organic food products for the first time, challenging public perceptions that organic products are free of synthetic plant protection products.
As EU ministers for agriculture prepare to launch a debate on the future of the bloc's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) tomorrow, farmers' groups are calling the EU to adopt organic farming as its future model and to safeguard farming activities in mountainous regions.
The EU-27's agriculture ministers have agreed to new organic food production and labelling standards from 2009, but green groups say that the rules are lax and will allow widespread contamination of organic products by genetically modified organisms.
The Parliament has held back its opinion on a new EU regulation on organic production and labelling rules, aimed at buying more time to negotiate on legislative powers and restrict the GMO content of organic products.
Recent figures by Eurostat show organic farmers represented only a tiny share (2%) of the total number of EU-15 farmers in 2002 and that this proportion has remained unchanged since the turn of the century.
The Parliament is seeking to put rural development and sustainable agriculture at the centre of the EU's agriculture research efforts in order to fully exploit the innovative potential of this sector in Europe.
In an emergency meeting on 11 June, the EU's
Standing Committee on the Food Chain decided not to take any
additional measures in the case of German food products
contaminated with the banned herbicide
In Germany, about 100 organic farms are believed to have been feeding their chickens with wheat containing the banned herbicide Nitrofen. The Agriculture Ministry in Lower Saxony believes that affected meat and eggs have already been sold and consumed.
A study of government data by the US Consumers Union found that pesticides residues, including from banned chemicals like DDT, are present in 23 percent of organic fruits and vegetables, and in nearly 75 percent of conventionally grown produce.
Researchers from the University of Otago (New Zealand) reviewed about 100 international food studies and concluded that there is no evidence that organically grown foods are healthier or tastier than those grown using chemicals.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the
European Association of Consumers (AEC) and the Dutch Bureau of
Food Trade (CBL) called on the EU to boost organic farming.
They presented a study on how to increase organic food
production in the EU to 10% by 2006, by reducing VAT and
introducing levies on the use of pesticides and