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Agriculture

EU executive to harmonize organic food production

The European commission has presented new proposals geared towards making organic food production safer and easier in the 28-member bloc. It said the initiative would serve both farmers and consumers.

The Commission has said it plans to do away with many of the current exceptions in terms of organic food production and controls, making checks more risk-based in future.

"The future of the organic sector in the EU depends on the quality and integrity of the products under the European organic logo," Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said in a statement.

"Consumers will have better guarantees on organic food made and sold in the EU, and farmers, producers and retailers will have access to a larger market, both within and outside the EU."

While a press release on the Commission's website failed to go into much detail about the planned changes, it did say new regulations would make it easier for small agricultural entrepreneurs to switch to organic farming by introducing the possibility for them to sign up to a group certification system, thus sparing them administrative costs and enhancing transparency in the production process.

The proposals also include an initiative to foster links between EU research and innovation projects in the industry.

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The EU executive said the proposals published on Tuesday heeded consumer and producer concerns about the future of organic farming in the bloc's member states and addressed a series of shortcomings of the current set of regulations.

Brussels pointed out the EU's organic market had quadrupled in size over the past decade. Therefore, the rules in place needed to be updated and adjusted to make the sector fit for future challenges.

The proposals are to be submitted for approval to the European Parliament and the European Council. The suggestions are based on a broad consultation process that started in 2012 and included a series of hearings with experts on organic production.

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