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News: EU and US to accept each other's organic standards


I heard this on NPR the other morning and have since read a few more articles about it. I have mixed feelings!

The EU and the US will accept each other's organic standards by June of this year. It turns out there is very little difference in the codes for producing vegetables. The US does allow for a few additional chemicals to be used on crops but it's a minor issue. So crops grown under organic certification in the US can export to the EU (and have them still be marked 'organic') and vice versa.

Meats are a bit different. The EU code allows for the use of antibiotics on organic farms for sick animals and the US does not. So no meat from the EU that has been injected with antibiotics (EVER) can be sold in the US under the organic label.

I personally always thought it was dumb that the US doesn't allow antibiotic use for sick animals. I'm not entirely sure what organic farms do - treat the animal with them and then sell to a non-organic production? Try to nurse it along without the use of life saving medicine? "Cull it" (i.e. kill it)? We do use antibiotics on our animals when they are sick. Most have a "withdrawal time" - the amount of time the medicine stays in their system. So you don't use the milk/meat for a certain number of days (usually weeks actually). I bet that's the way the EU is set [sign in to see URL] it makes more sense!

Anyway, I'm unsure of the trade agreement. At first, I thought "oh awesome!" but then I started [sign in to see URL] do we need to transport so much food back and forth? Especially for two regions that can grow essentially the same crops. It's not like we are trading cherries (cold weather) for coconuts (warm weather). We'll be trading back and forth the same things!

I don't claim to be an expert on international trading. But it seems insane to me the amount of transport that goes into commonly available goods. I'm not saying this agreement shouldn't have happened. I just don't know how "good" it really is. Perhaps it will make organic produce more available in both the US and the EU - which will increase demand, which will increase organic farms. That would certainly be a good outcome! But at what expense? More fossil fuel to transport, more cardboard tasting varieties designed for long distance, etc?

]Reuters article
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Re: News: EU and US to accept each other's organic standards


I'm totally with you on the trading/transporting of those things which most often can be grown right at home.
The costs in everything you mentioned above will be passed on to consumers! And THAT I will not pay [sign in to see URL] asinine idea is you ask me! emoticon

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Re: News: EU and US to accept each other's organic standards


I'm not sure that I agree with this, either. It seems a bit redundant to swap goods that are essentially the same. Why spend the money (for either country) that it will take for this is ridiculous. I could see it if we needed the products, or they needed our products.

I guess all we can do is see where it goes.

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Re: News: EU and US to accept each other's organic standards


Yes, the EU uses a withdrawal time for antibiotics in meat (weeks, as you said, but probably not that long for chicken) - that even applies for non-organic meats. Sadly, enforcement isn't always good, but I suppose that's a problem everywhere.

I do agree on the extra traffic - we wouldn't need that. It's one reason I look at the country of origin and refuse to buy anything that's been flown in over a large distance. If that means I don't eat strawberries or asparagus in winter, so be it.

I also think it's good they accepted each other's standards, though, as that will make it easier to get a world-wide agreement. I believe that would be very good progress. I'm thinking of China and India, for example. Having two similar codes with mutual acceptance in two big areas and producers could go a long way to effectively create a world standard.

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Re: News: EU and US to accept each other's organic standards


Firle, I see your point on accepting each other's codes on [sign in to see URL] yes, maybe it will push others to follow suit. That would be the best outcome of all of this. It is a shame that things will be transported though, wasting fuel and for what??????

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Re: News: EU and US to accept each other's organic standards


I also just read an article about organic produce in Germany, and that demand is larger than supply. Thus Germany is importing organic food, even though we could produce it ourselves, farmers are just not changing over much.

That is a difficult time for farmers, as they have to produce according to organic rules but cannot sell their produce as organic for three years. Financial help has been reduced, or cut entirely in some states (like mine, I'm ashamed to say).

I believe that Germany is one of the biggest organic growers and markets in Europe, so the EU as such probably cannot meet demand on the organic market. I didn't know that until yesterday, but in that light, the agreement certainly makes sense.

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Re: News: EU and US to accept each other's organic standards


I wondered about that Firle. The news story I heard on the radio was an American-based story and they interviewed American farmers saying it would be great to be able to export their produce now. I wasn't sure if that was just a bias because it's easier to get the guy down the street to interview than it is someone in the EU. But perhaps that is the case - the US can produce more than the demand here.

The only articles I could find said that the US demand for organic milk far exceeds the supply. There was also an article from 2006 that said demand for organic produce was higher, but that could have turned into a surplus by now.

So in that case, it's like I surmised earlier - it will make organic produce MORE available across the board, probably increasing demand even more, thus driving up even more the number of farmers using the methods.

And I like the idea of a world standard. Hand't looked at it from the perspective!
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Re: News: EU and US to accept each other's organic standards


Hmm... if Germany is having a hard time with meeting the demands, then maybe other European countries are as well.

I know, around here and in the areas I've gone to in Alabama, if you want organic, you're going to pay out the nose for it! Anything labeled organic is excessively [sign in to see URL] it a single tomato, or a pound of ground beef.

There is a store in Huntsville, AL (it's a chain of markets) and I could not believe the prices on some of their items. I about choked!
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To eat organic, healthy foods, it seems you have to pay so much for what's NOT in the food than for what IS. You would think that it would be cheaper, since you don't have the costly pesticides, chemical fertilizers, etc, but it's just the opposite, and I'm not quite sure I understand that.

I wonder, if a good bit of this whole thing isn't to bring about a more world-wide standard in food preparation than to import/export food items... emoticon

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