EU countries acquired comprehensive organic legislation with the implementation of the EU-Eco-regulation 1992. Supervision of certification bodies is handled on the national level. In March 2002 the European Commission issued a EU-wide label for organic food. It has been mandatory throughout the EU since July 2010, and has become compulsory after a two-year transition period.
In 2009 a new logo was chosen through a design competition and online public vote. The new logo is a green rectangle that shows twelve stars (from the European flag) placed such that they form the shape of a leaf in the wind. Unlike earlier labels no words are presented on the label lifting the requirement for translations referring to organic food certification.
In Belgium, a similar process is being used where certification of the "Biogarantie" label is overseen by the public "Association sans but lucratif" (ASBL) administration. This administration has existed since 27 June 1921 and was reformed on 2 May 2002 to take over the new responsibilities of the label certification.
Following private bodies certify organic produce: KEZ, o. p. s. (CZ-BIO-001), ABCert, AG (CZ-BIO-002) and BIOCONT CZ, s. r. o. (CZ-BIO-003). These bodies provide controlling of processes tied with issueing of certificate of origin. Controlling of compliancy (to (ES) no 882/2004 directive) is provided by government body ÚKZÚZ (Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture)."9"|Source: "Information on organic produce of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic"
In France, organic certification was introduced in 1985. It has established a green-white logo of "AB - agriculture biologique". The certification for the AB label fulfills the EU regulations for organic food. The certification process is overseen a public institute ("Agence française pour le développement et la promotion de l'agriculture biologique" usually shortended to "Agence bio") established in November 2001. The actual certification authorities include a number of different institutes like Aclave, Agrocert, Ecocert SA, Qualité France SA, Ulase, SGS ICS.
In Germany the national label was introduced in September 2001 following in the footsteps of the political campaign of "Agrarwende" (agricultural major shift) led by minister Renate Künast of the Greens party. This campaign was started after the mad-cow disease epidemic in 2000. The effects on farming are still challenged by other political parties. The national "Bio"-label in its hexagon green-black-white shape has gained wide popularity - in 2007 there were 2431 companies having certified 41708 products. The popularity of the label is extending to neighbouring countries like Austria, Switzerland and France.
In the German-speaking countries there have been older non-government organizations that had issued labels for organic food long before the advent of the EU organic food regulations. Their labels are still used widely as they significantly exceed the requirements of the EU regulations. An organic food label like "demeter" from Demeter International has been in use since 1928 and this label is still regarded as providing the highest standards for organic food in the world (see biodynamic agriculture). Other active NGOs include Bioland (1971), Biokreis (1979), Biopark (1991), Ecoland (1997), Ecovin (1985), Gäa e.V. (1989), Naturland (1981) and Bio Suisse (1981).
In Greece, organic certification is available from eight (8) organizations approved by EU. The major of them are BIOHELLAS and the DIO (Greek: Οργανισμός Ελέγχου και Πιστοποίησης Βιολογικών Προϊόντων - ΔΗΩ)
In Ireland, organic certification is available from the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association, Demeter Standards Ltd. and Organic Trust Ltd.
In Sweden, organic certification is handled by the organisation KRAV (agriculture) with members such as farmers, processors, trade and also consumer, environmental and animal welfare interests.
In the United Kingdom, organic certification is handled by a number of organizations, regulated by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), of which the largest are the Soil Association and Organic Farmers and Growers.
The farmland converted to produce certified organic food has seen a significant evolution in the EU15 countries, rising from 1.8% in 1998 to 4.1% in 2005. For the current EU25 countries however the statistics report an overall percentage of just 1.5% as of 2005. However the statistics showed a larger turnover of organic food in some countries, reaching 10% in France and 14% in Germany. In France 21% of available vegetables, fruits, milk and eggs were certified as organic. Numbers for 2010 show that 5.4% of German farmland has been converted to produced certified organic food, as has 10.4% of Swiss farmland and 11.7% of Austrian farmland. Non-EU countries have widely adopted the European certification regulations for organic food, to increase export to EU countries.
What Are Organic Foods?
Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods of organic farming – that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.
The organic farming movement arose in the 1940s in response to the industrialization of agriculture known as the Green Revolution. Organic food production is a heavily regulated industry, distinct from private gardening.
Currently, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as organic within their borders. In the context of these regulations, organic food is food produced in a way that complies with organic standards set by national governments and international organizations.
Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, [food] processors, retailers and restaurants.
Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:
- no human sewage sludge fertilizer used in cultivation of plants or feed of animals
- avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs not on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc.), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge;
- use of farmland that has been free from prohibited synthetic chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more);
- keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
- maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
- undergoing periodic on-site inspections.
In some countries, certification is overseen by the government, and commercial use of the term organic is legally restricted. Certified organic producers are also subject to the same agricultural, food safety and other government regulations that apply to non-certified producers.