By now you’ve probably heard that the United States and the European Union (EU) have signed an organic equivalence cooperation
arrangement in which products certified to either region’s standard are
mutually recognized in both the United States and the European Union.
Many people worked steadfastly on the equivalence process—from the initial vision over ten years ago through the detailed gap analyses to final negotiations. This agreement opens many doors,
and the organic community in both the U.S. and
EU has much to be excited about. Now it’s time
for U.S. growers and handlers to take advantage
of the simpler production rules and market opportunities this arrangement presents.
US-EU Organic Equivalence and What It Means for You!
By Bill Wolf
Momentum Mounts for Just Label It
America is coming together for the Right To Know what is in our foods,
with over 460 organizations partnering to demand federal labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods ranging from health care providers, retailers and
conventional and organic farmers to parenting, religious and community advocacy groups.
Just Label It began 2012 with the announcement that a half million consumers signed the FDA petition on GE food labeling and within one month,
the total comments on the petition had skyrocketed to three quarters of a million—the most
comments on a food petition in FDA history.
One thing driving this was a collaboration with
Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner, who created
a compelling short video, Labels Matter, about
three women who share a belief in the right to
know, but for entirely different reasons. Tens of
thousands of Americans viewed the video online
at www.justlabelit.org and shared it with family
and friends on Facebook and Twitter.
How You Can Help. The FDA has until March
27, 2012, to respond to the petition, so spread
the word! Consumers can send a comment with
just one click ( www.justlabelit.org/takeaction).
Companies are also encouraged to post a Just
Label It graphic-link on their website. In March, a
new infographic as well as a survey on consumer
attitudes toward GE labeling will be released.
Visit the website for updated news, information and tools. As those who
helped get the organic regulation passed know, the March date is only a step,
and consumer education and support will need to continue well after that
date no matter what happens, so help spread the word!
Don’t Miss This Session at Expo West: “Our Right to Know!
A Conversation on the California and Federal GMO Labeling Initiatives”
2-3: 15 p.m., Marriot Ballroom 6.
Calling All Californians! The California November 2012 ballot to mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods also needs your support. The
signature drive will end April 22 and approximately 800,000 signatures are
needed. Local chapters of the campaign are actively seeking volunteers. Visit
www.labelgmos.org to find out more about the campaign or to volunteer.
Use this graphic (or the infographic coming out in March)
to link to justlabelit.org and
educate your consumers on
the importance of the FDA
petition & GE labeling.
• Offers greater recognition for organic prod-
ucts; facilitates worldwide organic growth
• Provides increased transparency of interna-
tional organic standards, adding to con-
(continued on page 10)
US-EU Organic Equivalence: The Facts
As of June 1, 2012, the date the arrangement
goes into effect, the EU will recognize the USDA
National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent
to the EU Organic Program, meaning that products produced and certified to meet the USDA
NOP standards can be marketed as organic in
the EU. Likewise, the United States will allow European products produced and certified under
the EU Organic Program to be marketed as organic in the United States.
The arrangement is limited to organic prod-
ucts either produced within the U.S. or the EU,
or where the final processing or packaging oc-
curs within the U.S. or the EU. General country
labeling requirements must still be met. Also, be-
cause of a couple differences in the two stan-
dards, there are some limitations:
• All NOP-allowed materials can be used to pro-
duce and handle organic products destined
for the EU except for pears or apples pro-
duced using antibiotics to control fire blight.
• Antibiotics cannot be administered to animals
for products entering the U.S.
What’s in It for You?
The U.S.-EU organic equivalence arrangement is
good for organic businesses. Specifically, it:
• Increases market opportunities for organic
farmers, ranchers, processors and marketers
• Reduces burdensome paperwork by eliminat-
ing dual certification
• Lowers costs by eliminating dual certification