Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-03-28-Speech-3-161"

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". Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, as you know, the circumstances of organic farming are somewhat paradoxical today. On the one hand, there is growing demand for it because it is a method of farming that creates jobs, protects the environment, biodiversity and, ultimately, everyone’s health. On the other hand, organic farming still accounts for only slightly more than 1% of European agricultural production and slightly more than 3% of usable agricultural area – in other words, little. I believe that it is our responsibility to help develop organic farming within the European Union. Finally, I should like to conclude by saying that this regulation is not the be-all and end-all, either, and that it is not going to settle all of the issues concerning organic farming. Within the context of the common agricultural policy, we also need far greater support for organic farming than we have at present. This is perhaps only a small issue in terms of quantity, but a huge issue in political and symbolic terms because organic farming is also a kind of breakthrough, in that it refocuses the common agricultural policy on a far more sustainable form of farming, which is what is required. Throughout 2006, we worked on the basis of a Commission proposal that has caused a great deal of concern and given rise to many protests, and a certain hastiness, too, since we were initially asked to give our verdict in two months on a proposal that had not really been developed thoroughly. However, I readily admit that the work has been constructive and that the discussions have taken place regularly, with both the Commission and the Council, to improve the initial proposal. Through all these exchanges, all these discussions and comings and goings, what did this Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development ultimately hope to do? You have pointed out the key elements. Firstly, it hoped to extend the scope of this regulation to non-food products such as textiles and cosmetics, but also, and above all, to mass catering, because mass catering is an extraordinary lever for developing organic farming in our countries. We would be quite wrong not to use it. That is also why we want a dual legal basis – Articles 37 and 95 – which relate to both the internal market and consumption. It would seem that you have nothing but praise for our work, for our contribution and, thus, for the fact that the European Parliament has become far more involved – not to mention codecision, in general, for farming, because that is another debate that we have yet to hold. It therefore seems to me that, if we want to pursue this work, if we want MEPs really to have the right to inspect these famous decrees that are going to play a vital role in the application of this regulation, you should accept this dual legal basis, and we will pursue this debate. Secondly, as you pointed out, we have requested – from what was a vague text – far more precise definitions of what is meant by inspection, certification, products authorised or unauthorised in organic farming practices, the link to the soil, animal conditions, and so on. Next, you raised the very sensitive point of the lack of genetically modified organisms in organic farming. There must be a total absence of these organisms, just as there must be a total absence of pesticides and synthetic chemicals. On the subject of genetically modified organisms, we are absolutely set on confirming to consumers that organic farming does not contain any GMOs, from seed to distribution. The current threshold of 0.9%, which is a labelling exemption threshold, causes confusion. Therefore, in our opinion, we need to return to this issue so that we opt for the detection threshold for both conventional crops and organic farming and also so that, no matter what happens, we take all the measures necessary to prevent any contamination, even adventitious, of biological crops by GMOs. You say that it is not possible to accept the stricter measures that the Member States might take. Well, in our opinion, the specifications of both private and public authorities, which already exist and with which consumers are well acquainted, should be able to stay. In any case, this is what we want, and, if there is any flexibility, harmonisation must be upwards, not downwards, the latter being something that we fear. You have given us a number of answers. I believe that this debate will continue, no doubt beyond tomorrow’s vote."@en1

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