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Scandinavian container organics to be phased out over next 10 years:

EU: Hydroponic cultivation no longer organic

Since November 2015, the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission have negotiated in trialogue meetings on the new organic production regulation. Dutch State Secretary of Economic Affairs Van Dam calls the result "a heavily argued compromise that I can and will accept because of honored crucial points for the Netherlands, such as no threshold value for residues, the gradual phasing out of existing derogations, the maintaining of the possibility of parallel production, controls based on risk analysis and a differentiated distribution between delegated acts, implementing acts and rules contained in the Council Regulation."

Substrate cultivation
The principle of organic vegetable production whereby plants get their nutrients from the soil ecosystem remains in force. Substrate cultivation is therefore not allowed. Because of climatic conditions, Denmark, Sweden and Finland have difficulty in cultivating in the soil. Therefore, in the past, they have been given the possibility to cultivate in an alternative way, whereby the cultivation soil is raised above ground in trays.

In these member states, the cultivation of greenhouse vegetables is mainly aimed at the domestic market. This cultivation method will be phased out during a 10 year period from the entry into force of the Regulation. Until then, there will be a standstill in which the status quo is maintained. The standstill is limited to areas already biologically certified by Finland, Sweden and Denmark before 28 June 2017. This prevents newcomers from the application of this cultivation method. The wish of Southern European countries to get an exception as well, has not been honored. This means that they also must comply with the provisions of the Regulation.

An MP referred to innovations in the Netherlands on substrates or coco that are duly regarded as "organic" in the American market for organic products.

This situation is related to an equivalent agreement between the European Union and the United States, whereby the European Union and the United States recognize each other's rules and control systems and strive as much as possible for similar rules. However, this does not mean that they will always be or become the same. For example, cultivation on substrate according to the National Organic Program Guidelines (USA regulations) is considered to be organic, but in Europe this is not the case. Products cultivated in the Netherlands on substrate may be exported to the United States as "organic" but cannot be marketed as such in Europe.

Publication date: 8/9/2017



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