French consider banning organic label for heated greenhouse product

The debate about whether organic greenhouse vegetables have to be grown in the soil or whether they can also be grown hydroponically has been going on for decades. The French are bringing something new to the table. Two French pressure groups want it to become impossible to grow organic in a heated greenhouse. 

The French organisation CNAB was to decide on the ban on heating greenhouses for the production of organic fruits and vegetables last week, but the voting got postponed. Now pressure groups Fnab and Synabio are calling for a moratorium on new projects to build bio-heated greenhouses until a decision is made. 

The organisations Fnab and Synabio have asked for new measures concerning this measure since last year. They want the organic products to 'respect the natural cycle' and the 'responsible use of energy'. According to ADEME's FoodGES study, a tomato produced in France from a heated greenhouse is responsible for 4 times more greenhouse gas than a tomato imported from Spain and 8 times more than a tomato produced in France when France is in season.

Now the voting got postponed again until July 2019. "The more the ban decision is postponed, more new projects come out of the ground and the more difficult it will be to go back, we must act now," says Jean-Marc Lévêque, President of Synabio.

'Do not reproduce the mistakes of the past'
"Some economic players believe they can take advantage of the strong demand for organic fruits and vegetables without changing their model. However, the heating of greenhouses implies a specialization of crops that depletes soils, and is therefore incompatible with the agronomic approach defended by the organic model", Fnab and Synabio state.

"We cannot model a conventional productivist model on a biological logic that supposes accepting lower yields and stronger production constraints, of which seasonality is part. If the new actors position themselves in defiance of this logic, they will destroy what we have taken 40 years to build," says Sylvie Corpart, organic farmer representing Fnab at CNAB.

58% of the French say they are buying more and more seasonal products, a societal trend to which the organic label responds today.


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