Mark Measures, director of the Institute of Organic Training and Advice (IOTA), a UK-based professional body for those involved in organic food and farming, told Global Meat News he was “very dissatisfied” with the deal’s exception. He said it restricts products from animals treated with antibiotics from being marketed as ‘organic’ in America.
He said: “It is regrettable that the US has sought to differentiate its organic standards from those in the UK... [This] will perpetuate the obstacles to accessing the US market by UK and other European producers, for no justifiable reason.”
The agreement is meant to increase collaboration between the world’s two largest markets for organic food and expand market access for organic producers and companies by reducing duplicate requirements and certification costs on both ends. However, according to Measures, the restrictions do not reflect true equivalence between EU and US views of what can be classified as organic.
“EU organic standards have been set with a thorough understanding of organic meat and dairy production and have set realistic standards of production, which – while recognising the need for occasional antibiotic use for animal welfare reasons – have set prolonged withdrawal periods, which are properly policed in order to avoid any risk of antibiotic residues in organic products,” he said.
He added that it was the expectation of UK consumers that a sick animal was treated preferably with alternative remedies if appropriate, but with antibiotics if necessary.
In response, Barbara Haumann, spokeswoman at the US Organic Trade Association (OTA), said that EU producers who do not use antibiotics in their livestock practices will be continue to be able to market that organic meat in the US. And as for those who do, “without the equivalency agreement, they already could not market here in the US”.
“It is not unusual to have a number of variances in an original agreement on equivalence,” she added.
The EU and US organic markets are collectively valued at €40bn.