Organic on every table
What do we want?
By 2030 the organic movement envisions a food and farming system across Europe that is fair, environmentally conscious, healthy and caring. To make this a reality IFOAM EU led extensive discussions with all stakeholders of the agricultural value chain. We developed a roadmap to sustainable food systems in Europe to make this vision a reality.
When we say that we want ‘Organic on every table’ it means that we want high-quality food to be more widely available. To achieve this, it is crucial to increase production while at the same time raise awareness of consumers and policy-makers of the economic, environmental and social benefits of organic production.
On the road to our goal we reach out to and involve food and farming actors, civil society, companies and NGOs dealing with sustainability. Policy-makers also play a key role. They can put incentives and coherent policies in place to support the ecological and social services farmers provide.
What did we do?
In 2018, we worked tirelessly to get organic on every table. Much of our work builds on the work we have been doing in the past and that we will continue working on in the future. This way we guarantee a consistent representation of organic at the European level.
Showing organic’s environmental benefits
At the root of biodiversity: seeds
To make sure that the basis of agriculture and nature – seeds – are fit for organic, we coordinated the LIVESEED project. To realise the full potential of organic production systems we need cultivars adapted to organic systems. The LIVESEED project stimulates the production of organic seeds and plant breeding all over Europe. In parallel, we also coordinated the activities of the IFOAM EU’s seed expert group. Together with them we advocated for a review of the seed legislation. This legislation should include the possibility to use heterogeneous plant material in organic production. We conveyed this message at seed expert groups meeting on the topic, organised meetings with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) and participated in the conference on “Seeds in the new organic regulation 2018/848” in the European Parliament.
Besides advocating for a review of the seed legislation, we followed the review of the EU legislation on the marketing of Plant Reproductive Material. It is important to the organic movement to ensure that it includes the production and trade of heterogenous material and open-pollinated varieties for low-input agriculture. This increases biodiversity in farming systems.
Another danger to biodiversity in Europe is patents on seeds. We advocated with the European institutions to ensure that patents are no longer granted for essentially biological processes and on native traits.
Ensuring variety in Europe’s biodiversity: keeping Europe GMO-free
It is crucial for the organic sector that European food and farming remains GMO-free. GMOs promote uniformity and pose risks to the environment, human and animal health, farmers’ rights for seed and farmers’ independence. To enable the organic sector to keep the ability to remain GMO-free, we need an efficient regulation on GMOs. We worked towards a GMO-free Europe by advocating for regulating new genetic engineering techniques as GMOs. We welcomed the decision of the European Court of Justice that they should be regulated as such. After this, we published a legal analysis of the decision and sent a letter to Commission president Juncker together with like-minded NGOs. In the letter we highlight the need for the European Commission to implement the Court of Justice’s decision.
To help the organic and GMO-free conventional sector to remain GMO-free IFOAM EU, Fédération Nationale d’Agriculture Biologique des Régions de France (FNAB), Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft e.V. (BÖLW e.V.) and the Organic Research Centre (ORC) published practical and political recommendations. We organised a session on this topic at Biofach – Europe’s biggest trade fair on organic products. Besides this, we (co-)organised the final conference of the ‘Keeping GMOs out of food’ project. At this event, we presented the results of all IFOAM EU activities on GMOs to civil society and policy-makers. We also launched our new project on GMOs: ‘Keeping GMOs out of organic’, a continuation of the previous project.
Growing in harmony with nature: ambitious pesticide legislation
We continued working to ensure that Member States take their responsibilities about the decision-making process on GMOs and pesticides. We specifically advocated for an ambitious implementation of the EU’s Sustainable Pesticide Use Directive and monitored and contributed to the REFIT Evaluation of the EU regulations on pesticides. We did this through participating in workshops and organising meetings with MEPs. We also called on experts on plant protection products and / or fertilisers to join our new expert group on Plant Protection Products and Fertilisers. This expert group will provide expertise on legislative issues that could have significant implications for new and existing plant protection and fertiliser products of interest to the organic sector.
Ensuring that the legislative framework takes organics’ benefits into account
IFOAM EU and FiBL published a report “Towards a new public goods payment model for remunerating farmers under the new CAP Post-2020”. In the report we urge the European Commission to transform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) into a tool that makes agriculture more environmental and social. Based on this paper we will continue working on a practical tool for Member States to design the green architecture of their CAP Strategic Plans for 2021-2027.
Improving what goes into organic
It is important to make sure that there are enough inputs available that are suitable for organic farming. To make sure plant protection products, fertilisers and food and feed additives are conform organic’s high standards we promoted the availability of inputs adapted to organic production systemsand we advocated against inputs that threaten organic agriculture systems.
We did this by monitoring and advocating on general EU legislations on food and farm inputs. We kept an eye on the implementation of fertiliser and pesticide legislations and participated in relevant meetings. We organised and attended events such as the European Conference on Copper in Plant Protection and the 6th International Conference on Organic Agriculture Sciences (ICOAS).
IFOAM EU is responsible for the communication, dissemination and facilitation of the science-practice-policy dialogue in the RELACS project. This started in May and aims to develop alternatives for inputs considered contentious in organic agriculture. FiBL coordinates the project and IFOAM EU is responsible for providing policy advise and ensuring the project’s communication.
Building bridges and increasing capacity
Of course, we can only get organic on every table together with policy-makers and other actors in food and farming. As European organic movement we built bridges with farming communities, like-minded organisations and actors beyond the organic sector. We achieved this via face-to-face meetings, position papers, press releases, official letters, targeted emails, our newsletter, and the IFOAM EU member extranet.
We exchanged regularly – in person and digitally – with the IFOAM EU Board, Council, Interest Group of Organic Processors and Traders (IGOP), the Interest Group of Organic Farmers (IGOF), the Interest Group of Organic Retailers (IGOR), the European Organic Comms Hub and 8 additional working groups. Of course, we constantly informed our member organisations about recent developments relevant to the organic sector in Europe.
In our work on we put a special focus on Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We brought together different actors from this region at a roundtable to address the specific needs to develop its organic sector. At the roundtable we focussed on raising awareness about the benefits of organic agriculture and improving the environment for organic businesses. We also transformed the pilot group of communications experts among our members in an expert group.
We developed organic action plans within the framework of the SME Organics project at various face-to-face meetings with the project partners and relevant stakeholders. Moreover, we engaged in several other projects, which allowed the organisation to create links with stakeholders relevant to the organic movement, such as IoF2020, ReMIX and XF-Actors. in 2018, two team members of our office graduated from the Organic Leadership Course and we also continued to collect and show initiatives that are already bringing organic on every table on euorganic2030.bio (#EUOrganic2030, #OrganicOnEveryTable).