The Manilla Times reports that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Republic Act (RA) 11511, an amendment to RA 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, in order to strengthen the national organic agricultural program and promote the use of organic products through a nationwide educational awareness campaign. The law also establishes a Participatory Guarantee System to make certification more accessible to smallholders. The new regulations take effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette.
On January 1, 2021, a new organic equivalence arrangement between the United States and the United Kingdom will begin. Provided they meet the terms of the arrangement, organic products certified to either the USDA or UK organic standards may be labelled and sold as organic in both countries. This equivalence is limited to organic products that have been either raised within the U.S. or UK, or products for which the final processing or packaging occurs within the US or UK, and covers Crops, Wild Crops, Livestock, and Processed Products. The biggest change to current import/export practices under the new arrangement is that USDA organic products exported to England, Scotland and Wales must be accompanied by a new paper Great Britain import certificate developed by the UK. Shipments to Northern Ireland will continue to use the European Union's TRACES certificate system. Neither agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics nor aquatic animals (e.g. fish, shellfish) may be exported as organic products from the UK to the US under this arrangement.
Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce intends to digitize the country’s food and agriculture sector, starting with a traceability system that will debut with organic products. Dubbed TraceThai, organic rice has already been part of a pilot program for the system which uses QR codes and blockchain technology to protect data and prevent data falsification. For the first three years, participants will not incur additional fees to take part in the program.
Over 20 domestic and foreign brands now participate in the Organic Alliance at JD, a leading e-commerce outlet in China. Formed in August 2020, the Alliance collaborated to launch an ‘Organic Life’ promotional event for JD’s PLUS member. The event resulted in a 129 percent increase in organic mild powder sales, 240 percent increase in organic oils sales, and 200 percent increases for both nuts sales and organic food supplement sales. The pandemic has resulted in a trend of seeking better quality food options in China.
Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development has published its intent to become lead regulator of certain import and export products based on changes to Mexico’s trade law published on July 1, 2020. The proposed changes are outlined in the “Acuerdo que Establece las Mercancías Cuya Importación y Exportación está Sujeta a Regulación por Parte de la Secretaría de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural” (“Agreement Establishing Goods whose Import and Export are Subject to Regulation by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development”). Mexico has not yet notified the World Trade Organization Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of these changes. Notably, agricultural imports into Mexico requiring certificates of origin, such as organics, would be affected.
Changes to organic imports are slated to take effect on December 28, 2020, as outlined in the draft measure.
The European Union (EU) has recognized United Kingdom control bodies for the purpose of exporting organic products to the EU until December 31, 2021. Food and feed certified as organic in England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain) will continue to be accepted as organic in the EU until December 31, 2021.
India has notified the World Trade Organization about a proposal concerning registration and inspection of foreign food manufacturing facilities. It is not clear which facilities would be affected, and in an email to stakeholders, USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service said that the proposal appears to be an effort to address ‘high-risk’ food products of non-plant origin.
The European Commission has approved a proposal that would recognize organic certification standards in the United Kingdom for at least 12 months after the UK leaves the European Union on December 31, 2020. Unless an organic equivalency agreement is reached, the move will keep UK organic products on the market in Europe only through 2021. UK organic product exports to the EU are estimated at £225 million annually.
India’s Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will require certain foods to be accompanied by Non-GMO or GMO-free certificates, with a deadline that has been extended until a delivery arrival date of March 1, 2021. Items on the list include corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, beans and many fruits and vegetables including apples, papayas, pineapples, eggplants and potatoes. The order does not apply to processed food products or livestock feed.
The 2020 China Organic Products Certification and Organic Industry Development report valued the organic food market in China at CNY68 billion (US$10.3 billion) in 2019, but fewer than 500 imported food products have been certified organic in China. Chinese shoppers are skeptical about organic certification because fake certificates can be purchased relatively cheaply in certain provinces. To boost consumer trust, the government mandates that all organic products, down to the SKU, have a unique code to facilitate traceability.
About 1200 organic farmers in Ireland received payments, totaling €5.5 million, from the country’s Organic Farming Scheme. The program has resulted in an increase of nearly 50% on the hectarage under organic production since the start of the scheme in 2014. Ireland plans to increase the budget by €4 for this program in 2021.
The government plans to move away from GMO oil products as a strategy. Research indicated that Chinese consumers oppose genetically modified foods. Over 90 percent of the 70 million tones soybeans China imports are GMO. Palm oil products are expected to gain a larger market share as the country shifts away from GMO soy.
The USDA Foreign Agriculture Service will host a virtual trade event for US exporters interested in selling in Bangladesh, India, Burma (Myanmar), Nepal and Sri Lanka. Exporters of U.S. dairy products, healthy and natural foods (including vegetarian/vegan-friendly foods and non-alcoholic beverages), prepared foods and tree nuts are strongly encouraged to apply. Apply by December 11, 2020 deadline for the Feb. 2-4, 2021 event.
Recently signed into law, Indonesia’s ‘Job Creation’ bill contains provisions that are expected to ease access to imported food and beverage ingredients. Importing food to Indonesia has been complicated by laws which favor use of domestic production, even though data on domestic supply is often unreliable. The new law may take into account other factors, such as high food prices, in allowing food imports.
A new app powered by blockchain helps consumers in China verify the origin of products before they buy. The app, OrgHive, enables users to scan and verify over 2 billion organic certifications issued by Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA). Products listed on the platform feature a unique 17-digit code that enables traceability from origin to retail.
After extensive review and public comment, Canada is poised to release an updated version of its standards. The country’s climate for agriculture has driven many of the changes, which seek to make organic agriculture possible under challenging conditions for some products. Livestock, crops, greenhouse and honey production and the permitted substances list will all be among the changes.
The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service will host a virtual trade event for US candy and snack food businesses interested in trade with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates. Importers in those countries are usually interested in new and innovative candy and snack foods to introduce to a wealthy, multicultural consumer base. Apply by November 12, 2020 deadline for the January 12-14, 2021 event.
The European Commission introduced legislation that would change the implementation date of the new EU organic regulations from January 1, 2021 to January 1 2022. The legislation is expected to be adopted by early 2021.
The European Union notified the World Trade Organization about the opportunity to comment on specific components of the new organic regulations. The current notifications are:
Learn more about comment procedures.
Stakeholders can comment on a draft of regulations designed to update Australia’s regulations for organic products exported from there. Among other changes, the proposed rules would increasing the scope of cosmetic products to include substances used for domestic animals; include provisions to ensure that current certification bodies can continue to issue government certificates under the new legislation and removed references to approved auditors as they will not be required since they will be departmental employees. Comment by November 5, 2020.