No. 1 · May 2005

EU research in organic food and farming

In each issue of CORE Organic news we will bring highlights from the European research on organic food and farming. In this issue we report from the EU supported projects Organic Revision.

In the Organic Revision project two preliminary reports have been released; both reports are investigating the possibilities and limitations for 100 per cent organic feeding in Europe. Even the issue is comprehensive and complex, the message is clear - it is possible.

Organic revision

The overall objective of Organic Revision is to provide recommendations for development of the EU regulation for organic agriculture. The project will identify the basic ethical values and value differences in organic agriculture and develop a procedure for balancing and integrating the basic values in revisions of the EU regulation. It will also establish an organic standards database that enables comparison of national and international organic standards with the EU regulation, and analyse the exposed differences. Finally, the project will provide specific recommendations on the derogations of the use of conventional feed and conventional seed in the EU regulation.

Input to basic organic principles

This work has also been useful in the current rewriting of the basic principles of organic agriculture. The rewriting of the principles is performed by a taskforce appointed by the International Federation of Organic Movements (IFOAM). An elaborated draft of the new principles has recently been the subject of a public consulting procedure. The principles are to be presented at the IFOAM organic world congress in Adelaide September 2005.

You can follow the work at the, which is a tool for doing cooperative work on the internet.

100 percent organic feeding - what should be the rule?

One of the objectives of Organic Revision is to provide more knowledge on how to achieve 100% organic rations in diets for livestock.

In two preliminary reports the project researchers has investigated the possibilities and limitations for 100 percent organic feeding.

Development of a organic alternative

The first report provides and overview of possibilities and limitations of protein supply in organic poultry and pig production. Among others the report conclude that it is possible and recommendable to avoid feed and protein sources of nonorganic origin in the production of organic poultry and pig, and that it is possible without compromising animal health and welfare.

Furthermore, a ban of non-organic feedstuffs as supplementary protein sources is suited to redirect poultry and pig production from a quantity related to a more quality oriented production process. This could provide a clear distinction between organic and conventional production, which is expected to be essential for the confidence of the consumers and the development of a separate market.

Feed is available

The EU regulations on organic farming sets out that animal on organic farms should be fed with feedstuffs from organic farming systems. Only if organic feed is not available in sufficient quantity and quality, can a set percentage of non-organic components be used. The derogations for using conventional feed are due to expire in August 2005 and negotiations in Brussels are concerned with what rules will apply after August.

The second report presents an overview of supply and demand in the EU summarising the situation of supply and demand in 2002 and 2003. The calculations shows that in 2002 and 2003 the EU would have produced enough organic cereal crop and pulses to feed all stock with 100% organic diets. Deficits occur mainly in the area of high protein sources.

Comparing supply and demand it becomes clear that in 2002 and 2003 more feed was produced in the EU than would have been needed to feed all stock with 100 % organic diets. There was higher supply than demand for cereals in both years. For pulses, the situation would have been balanced in 2002, but in 2003 slight shortages would have occurred. Undersupply is assumed to have occurred in both years for high quality protein sources.

The preliminary report concludes that it is necessary to place more emphasis into identifying supplies of organic high quality protein sources that can be grown and utilised in Europe, including the supply of acceptable sources of animal protein. Because of the calculated high supply of cereals, one possible solution could be in the replacement of some cereals in crop rotation with crops that provide protein feed such as higher quality pulses and oil crops.

Your feedback

If you have a feedback, you are very welcome to use the discussion forum ( established by the Organic Revision project. As the report will be finalized in August 2005, your input should be given before June 30 2005.

More information at