16 May 1997

EU organic rules to be tightened

ORGANIC livestock producers could face stocking density limits after MEPs supported European Commission proposals to extend organic legislation.

Francis Blake, Soil Association spokesman, said there was concern that the commission would try and harmonise stocking rates even though organic production was a naturally self-limiting system.

There were also worries that the commission may say farmers with organic dairy cows could not have non-organic cows on the holding.

But the Soil Association welcomed the European Commis-sions proposals to tighten marketing and labelling of organic livestock products, saying there were too many items with questionable labelling entering the UK market.

"For example, yogurt entering the UK is sometimes labelled as organic even though the milk is conventionally produced and it is only the fruit which has been organically grown."

MEPs in Strasbourg welcomed EU farm commissioner Franz Fischlers backing of their amendment to ban the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in organic production.

Mr Fischler also said he would look at MEPs demands for extra budgetary support to promote and market organic products.