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4th European Organic Congress!



The 4th European Organic Congress invited the European organic sector to Rome to evaluate and discuss the European legislative framework for organic farming.



Find presentations, proceedings and photos under Congress Material



Congress Conclusions (download as pdf):



The 4th European Organic Congress in Rome, organised by IFOAM EU and IAMB provided the first opportunity for the organic movement to evaluate and discuss the new and revised organic EU regulation since it came into force on 1st January 2009. The new EU Organic logo, as well as the new labelling and aquaculture rules, will complete the new organic regulation, entering into force on 1 July 2010. The Congress was organised as part of the INTERBIO project supported by the Italian ministry of Agriculture.


More than 200 participants from the EU, EFTA and Mediterranean countries, as well as from the US, Latin America and the Middle East, assessed the current situation and discussed how to regulate organic food and farming in the future. With this congress the organic sector took responsibility for its regulation, assessed the status quo and almost importantly outlined the roadmap for further development in cooperation with official authorities. The congress highlighted several different issues, including rules for importing organic food into the EU, the needs of small farmers and operators, tools for inspection and certification, risk based inspection, new standards for organic aquaculture and organic wine, rules for organic processing and complementary tools to the organic EU regulation. Congress participants agreed that it was essential to consider the role of the regulatory framework in the broader context of the need for appropriate policies to meet the challenges ahead. At the present time, CAP reform is under discussion. The potential whole systems, multi-targeted approach of organic food and farming must be exploited in the CAP post-2013 if the promise of public goods for public money is to be delivered.
The main conclusions of the congress can be summarised as the following:
1)    The EU regulation must deliver both: A credible framework for organic food and farming in the EU and a legal baseline that can be implemented in the whole EU to enable the development of a Common Agricultural Policy post-2013 that delivers the wide range of public goods that society expects.
2)    The organic sector should work with others (including NGOs, businesses and the authorities) where the case for organic food and farming is clearly understood for the benefit such a systems approach can bring. Organic farming is part of a solution to the various linked challenges of climate change, rural social development, environmental protection, enhancement of biodiversity and protection of animal welfare
3)    The regulation - delivering a robust and effective regulatory framework – ensures that organic food and farming is currently the only production system legally defined at the level of the EU and with equivalent systems in operation around the world. This is a big success and is the result of an effective partnership between the organic movement and policy makers.
4)    Thus, organic production is more than ever ready to play a strategic role in shaping sustainable food systems and meeting future challenges. Policy must take major advantage of the only legally enforced and comprehensive definition of an EU food and farming system that is able to meet future challenges: biodiversity protection, mitigation of climate change, protection of animal welfare and economic development of rural society
5)    Organic has to strengthen its efforts to communicate itself as multi-targeted system that delivers a wide range of benefits to consumers and society as a whole, although for some single criteria a more specific, single issue approach is sometimes better, taken overall, the organic food and farming system delivers and optimum solution. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement of performance where weaknesses are identified.
6)    The organic movement has to take more responsibility for the development of regulation the organic sector and re-gain ownership. It is no longer appropriate to allow authorities to make decisions without effective participation of the sector and transparent procedures. The increasing importance of the EU Parliament in the Co-decision process may help in this. The organic movement must take up the opportunity to further develop the regulation in close dialogue with consumers and civil society.
7)    Not every detail needs to be regulated at EU level and the diversity within Europe needs to be respected. Whilst the EU regulation must represent the legal baseline, private initiatives and standards can deliver regionally adapted additional standards and systems within the legally enforced framework of the EU regulation. The organic movement has to discuss alternative solutions and possibilities.
8)    The detailed discussion on standards on issues like nitrates, poultry, greenhouse, SO2 levels in organic wine are certainly important, but are minor details, compared to general role organic has to play in the discussion on future solutions and challenges.
9)    Farmers and other businesses can profit from the clear legal baseline and have a robust framework to convert their farms and businesses to organic.




The 4th European Organic Congress set out to evaluate the first year of the new organic Regulation, assessing the current situation, and providing a platform for an outlook on further elements to be added to the regulation.


With the new EU Regulations for organic food and farming now in place for more than a year and a half, the IFOAM EU Group invites the organic sector to the Italian capital to evaluate the performance of the regulatory framework – what are the bottlenecks and challenges, which areas need work now and which will need attention in the future. 



The Congress is arranged by the IFOAM EU Group in conjunction with IAMB (The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari) in the frame of the “InterBio” project which is financed by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.  The venue is set in the heart of Rome, direct opposite the Rome opera house and within walking distance from the Spanish Steps, Fontana Trevi and the Vatican.


See programme, presentations and proceedings on the following pages.