Amongst all product and service industries worldwide, the food industry has evolved towards organic practice more than all others, and some countries today are implementing national statutory organics regulations that define the legal rights related to the use of ‘organic’, ‘eco’ or ‘bio’ labels on food products. The European Union (EU) and the USA have the most robust regulations related to organic food products worldwide, [1],[2] but they still face considerable shortcomings.

Organics are only partially organic

Organic livestock may be given feed containing synthetic or genetically modified additives or drugs if there are no suitable alternatives.[3] Organic crops may contain residues of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers due to environmental contamination. Indeed, EU monitoring has identified these residues in a wide range of organic food products and even found traces of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), a highly persistent and toxic synthetic pesticide that has been banned in the EU and USA since the 1970s.[4]

The information displayed on organic products packaging may be incomplete regarding the origin and purity of the contents. Organic food and personal care products can contain harmful substances from the environment or from processing, or toxic substances that have leached from the packaging.

Organics are not all the same

Many countries around the world have developed statutory organic food regulations in the last three decades, helping to raise the standards of food production in general, but the lack of harmonised global standards has resulted in wide-ranging differences between national regulations. What is forbidden in EU organic production may be permitted in organic practice in the USA and vice versa.

Organics Council ® is working to deliver a superior and global, fully comprehensive and unified organic, i.e. circular economy, food regulation in the near future.

1. Official Journal of the European Union (2007), Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:189:0001:0023:EN:PDF 
2. US Government Publishing Office, Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, Title 7: Agriculture, Part 205: National Organic Program. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=a5b155ba6da8c49616dcd44de509f65d&mc=true&n=pt7.3.205&r=PART&ty=HTML
3. European Commission, Agriculture and Rural Development Directorate (2007), EU Law on Organic Production: an Overview. http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/eu-policy/eu-legislation/brief-overview/index_en.htm
4. The Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (2015), Report on the Pesticide Residues Monitoring Programme for Quarter 1 2015. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20151023155227/http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/Resources/CRD/PRiF/Documents/Results%20and%20Reports/2015/Q1%202015%20FINAL.pdf