Definition: Organic production

EU legislation

Organic production is an overall system of farm management and food production that combines best environmental practices, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources, the application of high animal welfare standards and a production method in line with the preference of certain consumers for products produced using natural substances and processes. The organic production method thus plays a dual societal role, where it on the one hand provides for a specific market responding to a consumer demand for organic products, and on the other hand delivers public goods contributing to the protection of the environment and animal welfare, as well as to rural development.

Organic production shall pursue the following general objectives:

(a) establish a sustainable management system for agriculture that:
(i) respects nature's systems and cycles and sustains and enhances the health of soil, water, plants and animals and the balance between them;
(ii) contributes to a high level of biological diversity;
(iii) makes responsible use of energy and the natural resources, such as water, soil, organic matter and air;
(iv) respects high animal welfare standards and in particular meets animals’ species-specific behavioural needs;

(b) aim at producing products of high quality;

(c) aim at producing a wide variety of foods and other agricultural products that respond to consumers’ demand for goods produced by the use of processes that do not harm the environment, human health, plant health or animal health and welfare.

Organic production shall be based on the following principles:

(a) the appropriate design and management of biological processes based on ecological systems using natural resources which are internal to the system by methods that:
(i) use living organisms and mechanical production methods;
(ii) practice land-related crop cultivation and livestock production or practice aquaculture which complies with the principle of sustainable exploitation of fisheries;
(iii) exclude the use of GMOs and products produced from or by GMOs with the exception of veterinary medicinal products;
(iv) are based on risk assessment, and the use of precautionary and preventive measures, when appropriate;

(b) the restriction of the use of external inputs. Where external inputs are required or the appropriate management practices and methods referred to in paragraph (a) do not exist, these shall be limited to:
(i) inputs from organic production;
(ii) natural or naturally-derived substances;
(iii) low solubility mineral fertilisers;

(c) the strict limitation of the use of chemically synthesised inputs to exceptional cases these being:
(i) where the appropriate management practices do not exist; and
(ii) the external inputs referred to in paragraph (b) are not available on the market; or
(iii) where the use of external inputs referred to in paragraph (b) contributes to unacceptable environmental impacts;

(d) the adaptation, where necessary, and within the framework of this Regulation, of the rules of organic production taking account of sanitary status, regional differences in climate and local conditions, stages of development and specific husbandry practices.
Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91

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