Press Releases

October 2014
Congress focus at BIOFACH 2015: Organic 3.0 – good framework for more organic

  • Industry focuses on the legal framework
  • European organic laws and international trade policy

Once a year, BIOFACH, the World’s leading Trade Fair for Organic Food, gathers together representatives of the whole sector in Nürnberg – on the last occasion 2,263 exhibitors and 42,445 visitors. This is where they all contribute to shaping the future of the global market, the organic movement and policy. At the next BIOFACH, from 11 to 14 February 2015, the industry is concentrating its gaze on the framework conditions. They help to determine the future development of organic and are crucial for the sustainable future of agriculture and the food economy. The organic future debate titled Organic 3.0 was launched at BIOFACH 2014 on the occasion of the trade fair’s 25th anniversary. The industry will continue this debate at the BIOFACH Congress 2015. The BIOFACH and VIVANESS Congress comprises around 100 lectures and discussions and reaches more than 6,500 participants. It is the biggest organic industry congress worldwide and a unique platform for exchanging knowledge and information.

The framework conditions applicable to agriculture and the food industry are created by states and communities of states locally, nationally, internationally and globally in numerous legally binding and strategic documents. They determine, for example, how ecologically orientated agriculture is supported, communicated and researched or what regulations production, processing and trade have to comply with. In Europe the conditions applicable to organic food production are laid down at EU level, embellished in the member states, supplemented by national regulations and then implemented in practice regionally and communally.

The EU Organic Regulation, the regulations relating to fertilizer, seed and plant protection or the genetic engineering law – these are just a few of the legal acts that define the framework for agriculture and the food industry. As well as laws that guarantee economic players legal security and enable fair competition to prevail, support measures by the Common EU Agricultural Policy (CAP) are of great significance – an example being direct payments to farmers or the orientation of research policy.

Peter Röhrig, managing director of Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW, Berlin, D) (German Federation of the Organic Food Industry): “The proposal of the European Commission to totally revise the EU Organic Regulation is evidence of how the revision of a law can completely undermine the industry’s perception of itself. Almost unisono, Europe’s organic sector is up in arms against the proposals that read on paper like a deliberate shrinking of the organic food industry. Instead of more and better – the stated aim of the EU Commission – all economic players are now threatened by less and worse. If you want ‘more and better’, you’ve got to further develop the existing EU Organic Regulation at the crucial points.”
Markus Arbenz, Executive Director of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM, Bonn, D): “In the discussion about the eco future and the design of good framework conditions for more organic, the focus is turning also to instruments of international trade policy. With bilateral or multilateral agreements like TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), CETA (Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) or TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) they are not only attempting to reorganize trade but are disadvantaging the organic sector. The organic sector in particular must pay great attention to which standards in the agricultural and nutrition culture are essential and not negotiable, because the concept of organic must continue to develop dynamically and as a model of the food economy to be emulated if we are to meet the challenges of climate change, food sovereignty, and the loss of biodiversity and resources. The United Nations’ Year of the Soil 2015 is an opportunity to do precisely that.”

As part of the main theme of the congress in 2015, IFOAM, the international patron of BIOFACH, and BÖLW, the national supporting organization, have jointly established the following four focal points among the issues to be addressed:

1. The revision of European organic law
For over 20 years, the EU Organic Regulation has placed the principles of ecological management in a framework of law. They have been continuously further developed jointly with practitioners and in keeping with the new challenges arising from progress and the professionalization of the organic sector in the EU and worldwide. So the proposal of the EU Commission to totally revise EU organic law from March 2014 hit many EU member states like a bombshell. With the planned control of the retail trade many organic outlets would disappear. With the abolition of flexibility rules it is much more difficult to produce organics in all the regions of Europe. Setting special threshold values for organic products undermines the proven and successful principle of process-orientated control. Moreover, the proposals make it more difficult for farmers in the poor countries in the south to gain access to markets, because they have to follow European instead of their own locally adapted standards of equal value. The proposals of the EU Commission are creating uncertainty in the industry. Fighting for rejection of the proposal and the targeted continuation of existing organic law in the proven way is therefore determining today’s political work of the industry across the EU and will be discussed at the world’s leading trade fair.

2. International trade policy: imports, TTIP and co.
The organic world is expanding, and with it trade. This means, on the one hand, that trade relations within the organic industry need to be scrutinized. In addition, the mechanism of importing and exporting must be understood and further developed and the focus has to turn to the standards of foreign production and control. On the other hand, the organic sector doesn’t operate under a bell jar. International agreements like TTIP demand that the European and North American organic industry makes every effort to maintain a culture of agriculture and nutrition that is determined not only by high standards in agriculture and processing but by the democratic and transparent creation of rules and laws.

3. The millennium development goals
When the millennium development goals have expired, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) will determine the political aims of the United Nations. The SDGs currently under discussion specify the indicators and aims to which the countries of the world will commit. Thanks to the commitment of the international organic actors, sustainable agriculture is now firmly rooted in those goals. However, in the opinion of the industry they have to continue the pressure so that everyone involved commits to more sustainability in agriculture and therefore creates framework conditions that support organic agriculture. Maintaining and promoting soil fertility are fundamental concerns of organic agriculture. In the UNO Year of the Soil, organic cultivation can be positioned as a strategy to solve the problem of the continuing loss of soil as a resource.

4. European innovation partnerships
The aim of the European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) is to accelerate innovation activity in Europe. Moreover, the existing instruments of coordination from research to the market are to be better adapted to each other. With so-called Operational Groups (OPG), the new bottom-up approach of the EU aims to give fresh impetus to innovation activities in agriculture and to encourage a better exchange of ideas and information between research and practice. In future, the OPGs are to be the nucleus of innovative project work that has as its objective sustainable and productive agriculture. Implementing EIP is thematic. In the EIP Agri – the innovation programme in the agriculture sector – agricultural productivity and sustainability are to be enhanced as the interface between agriculture, the organic economy, science and other participants. EIPs can be discussed as a model of networks on a scale from regional to international. BIOFACH offers the representatives of OPGs from the various member states a platform where they can report on their experiences, exchange information with other participants in projects and familiarize non-Europeans with the EIP model.

Contact for BIOFACH press and media
Barbara Böck, Helen Kreisel-Gebhard, Ellen Damarowski
Tel +49 (0) 9 11. 86 06-83 28
Fax +49 (0) 9 11. 86 06-12 83 28
send enquiry

Contact for BÖLW press and media
Joyce Moewius
Tel +49 (0) 30. 28 482-307
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Contact for IFOAM press and media
Denise Godinho
Tel +49 (0) 228.
926 50-10
send enquiry