Four European Union (EU) organizations that deal with organic products have asked the EU Committee on Organic Production to prevent the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) from accrediting agencies certifying exports of organic products from India to the Union.

They also called on the EU to remove India from the list of countries recognized for exports of organic products to the EU and directly supervise shipments from the subcontinent.

The organizations, in a letter to committee chair Elena Panichi, highlighted actions taken by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which had directly taken on oversight of India’s organic exports. to the United States.

In July of this year, USDA terminated a 15-year agreement with the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) allowing the latter to accredit export certification agencies for products. organic to the United States. The USDA had said it was changing its approach to biological “monitoring” in India as part of its national organic program.

Additional audits

The four organizations called on the EU to continuously improve the quality of organic products imported into the EU and to monitor the functioning of APEDA in this perspective.

One way could be to offer “additional audits” and ensure that APEDA “responds and operates as appropriately as the control system requires”.

The organizations even suggested that an alternative body to APEDA, which controls and supervises organic exports, should be allowed to emerge. By then, Indian farmers should have time to make the transition and EU countries should be allowed to import Indian organic products without interruption.

“Examine derecognition”

The communication was sent to the EU Committee asking it to reconsider its decision to blacklist five certification agencies certifying exports of organic products from India to the European Commission.

The five certification agencies – CU Inspections India, Ecocert India, Indian Organic Certification Agency (Indocert), Lacon Quality Certifications and OneCert International – were counted for their failure to meet the standards for the presence of ethylene oxide (ETO) in their shipments, especially sesame. (til / gingelly).

APEDA followed the denial of the five companies by suspending accreditation to Aditi Organic Certification for one year and banning four others – CU Inspections India, ECOCERT India, Indian Organic Certification Agency (Indocert) and OneCert International – from registering any new organic processor or exporter. for the certification of organic products.

All five went under the APEDA lens after some shipments authorized by them failed to meet ETO presence standards. APEDA officials did not comment on the letters from the four organizations until the publication of this report.

European organizations said that in view of the committee’s blacklist, “hundreds of thousands of Indian organic farmers will find it difficult to export their organic products to the EU and the interests of businesses selling and customers buying their products. in Europe are also harmed ”.

The organizations – Organic Processing and Trade Association (OPTA), Europe, SYNABIO, BioNederland and Association for Organic Food Producers – said ETO was a post-harvest issue and farmers were not the cause. but the victims of contamination.

Accusation against authority

The five unrecognized agencies have certified nearly 80 percent of organic products imported into Europe from India, which is the sixth most important country for imports into the EU. “This means that many operators in the EU who depend on ingredients from India will be very seriously affected,” the organizations said.

They told Panichi that to meet the interest of organic businesses and consumers in Europe, besides affected organic farmers, the committee should reassess how best to improve the quality of ETO checks in India.

The EU should at least establish an appropriate transitional period and regime if the Commission is satisfied that it has taken the right step, while allowing organic farmers in India to continue marketing their products, the organizations said.

Appreciating the committee taking responsibility for the integrity of organic products, they said the control system in India was struggling. The problems were not only caused by the five blacklisted companies, but also by APEDA, they accused.

“Information was withheld or transmitted very late to the supervisory bodies and the information provided by the supervisory bodies to APEDA was also transmitted very late to the Commission by APEDA”, the four organizations affirmed.

Business analysts saw the move by the four organizations as an attempt to dictate terms on behalf of the certification agencies and an intervention with India’s sovereign rights.

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