EU and U.S. Create Historic Trade Partnership for $50 Billion Organic Industry

USDA organic

An historic partnership connecting organic producers in the European Union and the United States will become effective June 1, 2012, according to an agreement reached between the world’s two largest organic producers earlier this week at the BioFach World Organic Fair—the world’s largest organic trade show and conference.

Valued at more than $50 billion in annual sales between Europe and the U.S., the agreement will honor the organic certification standards that bookend both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. All organic products contained in the trade partnership parameters must be shipped with proof of organic certification in order to qualify. The partnership will drastically open up trade and create jobs in the organic agricultural and manufacturing sector.

The organic standards are virtually identical in the U.S. and the EU except in the case of the use of antibiotics; the use of antibiotics is prohibited in the U.S. except where an invasive infection can rapidly spread and destroy crops, such as the fire blight, which can affect apple and pear orchards. Infected animals are allowed to receive antibiotic treatment in the EU.

According to the EU Commissioner responsible for agriculture and rural development, Dacian Ciolos, “This agreement comes with a double added value. On the one hand, organic farmers and food producers will benefit from easier access, with less bureaucracy and less costs, to both the U.S. and the EU markets, strengthening the competitiveness of this sector. In addition, it improves transparency on organic standards, and enhances consumers’ confidence and recognition of our organic food and products.”

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Image: Tim Psych

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.