Organic Regulation / May 2020

Sprouts from Brussel

While work on the Delegated Act on Organic Heterogeneous Material is slowly moving behind closed doors, the entry into force of the Regulation may be delayed 

While the lead for the Organic Regulation in the European Commission is with the Directorate General for Agriculture (DG AGRI, Unit Organic), which negotiates with experts from Member State authorities, the technical work related to seeds, especially the new notification regime for the marketing of organic heterogeneous material (“OHM”), is done by Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE, Unit Plant Health). The Expert Group on Organics last met on 2nd March 2020, and its next meeting focusing on horizontal issues of the Common Organisation of agricultural Markets scheduled for the 6th May. The agenda has little time devoted to seeds, but rather puts the emphasis on controls and includes a discussion on the labelling of fodder seed mixtures. 

The lack of advancement on the OHM notification regime is not only explained by difficult remote working conditions, but also by a formal request from the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee to the European Commission to halt all work on secondary and non-urgent files until the Parliament can convene again, especially controversial ones like the OHM notification regime. The rapporteur of the file, MEP Martin Hausling, has also asked the Commission to delay the entry into force of the Regulation, following in the footsteps of IFOAM. It is thus likely that a transition period from 6 months up to a year will be granted for the new rules’ implementation in 2021. 
Meanwhile, the draft Regulation of the European Commission on the use of inconversion and non-organic seeds is still open for consultation until the 13th May on the European Commission’s Have Your Say portal. The draft notably harmonises the specific criteria and conditions for issuing authorisations to use non-organic plant reproductive material where organic and inconversion plant reproductive material is not available in sufficient quality or quantity. It also enacts strict rules for the treatment of seeds with phytosanitary products, and most interestingly obliges Member States to establish a “positive official list” of species, subspecies or varieties for which it is established that organic or in-conversion seeds are available in sufficient quantities in their territory, and for which no derogations to use conventional seeds can be issued.