Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) said it was concerned and disappointed at the news, and said the US scheme’s animal welfare standards were far lower than the EU standards.
In a statement, the EU said: “Although there are small differences between US and EU organic standards, both parties individually determined that their programmes were equivalent except for the prohibition on the use of antibiotics.”
However, CIWF disagreed, and claimed that the US standards in some cases would be considered non-organic in the EU, while others would also be deemed illegal on animal welfare grounds.
It added that the US standards lack detailed welfare provision – for example, 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, CIWF’s CEO said: “If the EU feels 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.
“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.”