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Organic Equivalency agreement between EU and USA

A new way to measure equivalency: Same, same but different...

Compassion in World Farming is extremely concerned and disappointed to learn that the EU has recognised the US National Organic Programme as equivalent to its own.

As it stands, the US organic standards on animal welfare are far lower than the EU standards. An EU publication states: “Although there are small differences between U.S. and EU organic standards, both parties individually determined that their programs were equivalent except for the prohibition on the use of antibiotics.”

This is not the case. Not only would the US standards in some cases be considered non-organic in the EU, but some elements might even be deemed illegal on animal welfare grounds. US standards lack detailed welfare provision. Bathing water is not required for ducks, routine mutilations are not prohibited and stocking density is not specified for any species in the US.

Philip Lymbery, Compassion in World Farming’s CEO says: “If the EU feels that this is the time to negotiate an equivalency deal with the US, it is wide of the mark. I simply cannot believe that the EU has accepted the US livestock standards as equivalent.”

In addition to the huge animal welfare concerns, there is the risk that the agreement will under-cut EU organic farmers in their home market. If the EU recognises a set of animal welfare standards as being equivalent to those of the EU, when they are clearly much lower, it makes EU farmers vulnerable to being undermined by these products and indeed their prices.

Philip continues: “I am questioning the EU’s judgement as this new agreement is also terribly misleading to consumers. Consumers buy organic animal produce safe in the knowledge that the welfare has been of a high standard. If the US organic products will now be deemed to be equivalent, what will be next? It could be the tip of a very nasty iceberg.”

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