Written Q&A to EU Commission – Organic labeling and counterfeiting

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Nicola Caputo (S&D)

3rd September 2014

Subject:  Labelling of organic foods and counterfeit products

As demand for organic and protected geographical indication (PGI) products rises dramatically, the quantity of fraudulent products on the market is rising with it: hundreds of products are being passed off as organic foods subject to rigorous checks but have in fact been falsely labelled and produced with complete disregard for the rules, using harmful pesticides, non-comestible liquids or even substances intended for use in animal feed.

1. How does the Commission intend to boost organic food production in an effort to satisfy demand without sacrificing quality?

2. In the context of the EU proposal on the labelling of organic products, what monitoring systems could be used to clamp down on counterfeit foods?

3. How does the Commission plan to tackle the increasing use of e-commerce to export ‘fake organic’ products quickly and on a huge scale, and to import counterfeit products?

Answer given by Mr Cioloş on behalf of the Commission – 20th October 2014

1. The Common agricultural policy (CAP) includes measures to support organic production. From 2015, Member States will have to use 30% of direct payments to finance payments to farmers for sustainable agricultural practices that are beneficial for climate and environment. The practices of an organic farmer will be considered per se as complying with these so-called greening payments. Rural development framework includes opportunities to support increase of organic production, as a specific measure provides for Member States to support farmers converting to, or maintaining, organic production practices. The School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme (SFVS) and the School Milk Scheme (SMS) present opportunities for organic farmers.

Research and innovation has a role to play in development of EU organics, and to this end the action plan for the future of Organic Production in the European Union(1) foresees actions under Horizon 2020 to support research and innovation. The European Innovation Partnership for agriculture will also foster the exchange of innovative methods and research results and make the link between science and practice.

2. The proposal allocates a budget for technical assistance measures by the Commission so as to implement a system of electronic certification, both for products imported and for EU operators. This will make forgery and fraud, currently found in paper documents, more difficult and will enhance traceability and control.

3. As part of its Action Plan1 the Commission will assist Member States in developing and implementing an organic fraud prevention policy, through targeted workshops to share good practices and the development of compendia/casebook of cases.

(1) COM(2014)179 final ; http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/documents/eu-policy/european-action-plan/act_en.pdf

(Source: European Parliament website)

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