India’s largest organic cotton-growing state released two new organic cotton varieties September 8. Developed through a decentralized organic participatory breeding program, the new high-yield organic cotton varieties will beet industrial fiber quality requirements and have been bred to minimize cross-pollination with GMO cotton.
The European Parliament voted to support a proposal to prevent the production of certain products that have been sourced from land that was deforested after 2019. The proposal list includes cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soy, wood, and products that contain these commodities, and parliament members included pork, sheep and goats, poultry, corn, rubber, charcoal and printed paper products. In addition, parliament strengthened provisions for due diligence.
The first client in the Woolworth New Zealand’s wholesale agreement is organic grocer Huckleberry. Although the Woolworth New Zealand wholesale business is separate from its Countdown supermarket chain, the government is concerned about the lack of competition in the supermarket sector. As a result, a watchdog agency will oversee the duopoly.
The 2022 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practice Standard (OLPS) Proposed Rule has been officially published in the Federal Register with a comment deadline of October 11. The National Organic Program (NOP) will also be hosting a virtual listening session on Friday, August 19. Individuals that would like to present oral comments must use a form to sign up and submit the request by August 15. The session is two hours and each commenter is provided a 3-minute speaking slot. Slots will fill up fast! Registration is not required to listen to the session, as it is open to all.
Food high in saturated fat, sugars or sodium will have to comply with requirements for a front of package symbol under new labeling rules in Canada that come into force January 2026. In a separate regulation, foods and beverages supplemented with vitamins, minerals or caffeine will have new labeling standards. Added ingredients must be on a list of permitted supplemental ingredients, and products must be on a list of permitted supplemented food categories. Products on the market now have until December 31, 2025 to comply
Thailand’s national food labeling rules will require food manufacturers to declare the use of genetically modified ingredients. ‘Genetically modified’ must be declared alongside the food name on the label if the product contains only one ingredient; multiple-ingredient products must also clearly declare the GMO status alongside each ingredient. In addition, declaring that foods are GMO-free will no longer be allowed. Some exceptions to the requirements exist for small producers with direct sales, those who can prove that no GM ingredients are used in production, products that can prove no genetically modified proteins or components remain in the final product, and genetically modified proteins used as an aid for manufacturing. The regulations are expected to be enforced beginning in October 2022.
As part of an effort to slash carbon emissions by 51 percent by 2030, Ireland is asking the agriculture sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. Farmer participation is voluntary, and will include incentives. The agriculture sector is responsible for 37 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Other cuts include 50 percent reduction in transportation emissions and 40 percent reduction from commercial and public buildings.
In order to improve food safety, Indonesia has enacted new regulations to better control heavy metal contamination especially in processed foods. The new, more rigorous regulations will be enforced in 2023. Imported products will be subject to the new standards, and will have to be tested by accredited laboratories.
Since 2016, China has seen 78 boycotts of foreign companies—six times the amount in the eight years prior, according to research by the Swedish National China Center. Companies from the US, Japan and France were most frequently targeted. Products with local Chinese alternatives, food and beverages, luxury goods, and automotive, were the most boycotted. The researchers found evidence that a third of the boycotts had state support.
Updates to Norway’s organic agriculture regulations make changes to the scope of products covered, procedures for product registration, notification requirements, and import procedures. Imports from third countries must come from the approved third country and regulatory authorities. Importers must inform the Norwegian Food Safety Authority no later than one working day before arrival.
With all its seaports blocked and bridges damaged in the war, Ukraine is shipping more of its organic exports by rail and river vessels. New trade routes send more products through Romania, Poland and Lithuania. Due to proximity, Europe has become an even more important trading company for the embattled country. On the farm side, 30 percent of certified organic land in Ukraine is either occupied or mined, reports the Ukrainian Ministry o f Agrarian Policy and Food. Nevertheless, 99 percent of the sowing campaign in 2022 is complete.
New rules proposed by the European Commission would require fall farmers and professional pesticide users to practice integrated pest management, as well as banning all pesticides in sensitive areas, including urban green areas. The move is part of proposed legally binding targets to reduce pesticide use and risk by 50 percent by 2030.
As part of climate change mitigation, Ireland has created the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme. The program will channel €1.5 billion to the agri-food sector, pending EU approval. Up to 50,000 farmers will receive support for delivering climate, biodiversity and water quality improvements. Payments would be tied to a scoring system.
Due to environmental and sustainability concerns, Taiwan began restricting the use of polyvinyl chloride in food packaging starting July 1, 2022. The first restrictions are for the use of flat packaging materials. Two other Asia-Pacific nations have already banned the materials, with South Korea taking the lead in 2020, and New Zealand phasing out PVC food packaging starting in April 2022.
Research from Accenture shows Chinese consumers have shifted their spending patterns, including an increased interest in sustainability with 98 percent recognizing the value of environmental protection. Four other trends in spending include: the ‘Me’ economy of individual rather than family preferences; more prudent spending; increased desire for convenience to free up time for leisure activities; and concern about excessive ‘push’ communications.
After nearly 20 years of increasing organic agriculture exports from Ukraine and a domestic market that is beginning to sprout, war brings the treat of destruction of the Ukrainian organic sector. Thirty percent of organic operators have had to suspend business activities, and 70 percent need financial assistance. Although some of Ukraine’s key products (corn, wheat, sunflower products) continue to be available, the Ukrainian ministry of agriculture has excluded many products from export, so check the list, which is updated frequently. The biggest challenge, however, is lack of export infrastructure, including trucks and personnel. Rail alternatives have worked for some organic shipments, and the European Commission intends to assist with additional vehicles. Meanwhile, two organizations in Ukraine, Organic Initiative and Green Dossier, have set up a grant program.
Thanks in part to the government’s investments in its Action Plan for Organic Agriculture (2017-2022), Thailand’s organic exports have had an average annual growth rate of 44 percent from 2017-2020. Products with significant export increases include: rice, durian, mangosteens, young coconut, coconut milk and green tea. Thailand’s next action plan for 2023-2027 is in development, and will highlight research, technology, improved certification systems and standards, marketing, and the organic food supply chain.
Over the last decade, sales of organic products from locally certified farms/plants in Hong Kong have grown steadily at an average rate of about 10 percent. In 2021, U.S. fresh and chilled organic exports to Hong Kong dropped 11 percent to $10 million compared to 2020 but held above the five-year average. In addition, the slowdown in U.S. organic exports was far less than the 20 percent decline in conventional U.S. exports. While most U.S. agricultural exports faced shipping logistics challenges last year, the smaller contraction in U.S. exports of organic products reflects the growing popularity of these products in Hong Kong.
In 2020, organic food sales were up 14 percent from 2019 in the Czech Republic, and represented 1.77 percent of food and beverage sales. Household organic food consumption was valued at CZK 5.99 billion in 2020, up from 5.26 billion in 2019. Supermarkets and hypermarkets were the most common channel, with 32 percent of sales, followed by online sales (22 percent, boosted by the pandemic), organic specialty and health food stores (15 percent) and drugstores (15 percent). Shoppers expressed interest in coffee and tea, prepared foods (including baby food), dietary supplements and other processed foods, as well as fruits and vegetables and dairy products. In 2020, organic exports also increased.
With carbon farming a priority on the European Union’s agenda for climate change mitigation in agriculture, IFOAM Organics Europe’s new position paper urges the use of a holistic approach which includes not only on the amount of carbon stored in soils but also encompasses biodiversity protection, as in organic farming. A companion document outlines the environmental benefits organic agriculture, including reduced energy use, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon sequestration.