"Everything, except Agriculture, can wait in this tough time. Do yourself a favor and wear a protective face mask."

Organic farming – France

Spread the knowledge
Organic farming is a mode of production that finds its originality in the use of cultural and livestock practices concerned with respect for natural balances. Thus, it excludes the use of synthetic chemicals, GMOs and limits the use of inputs.

The benefits that society can derive from organic farming are manifold in terms of creating activities and jobs, preserving soil quality, biodiversity, air and water. This mode of production allows to experiment in full size innovative practices respectful of the environment and which are likely to be developed more widely in agriculture. Its modes of transformation favor the enhancement of the natural characteristics of the products.


The principles of organic farming were introduced in France after the Second World War. Its first formalization goes back to the Agricultural Orientation Law (LOA) of 1980 and the term “organic farming” appears in 1991 in a European regulation which officially recognizes this mode of production (EEC Regulation 2092/91 of 24 June 1991).
The recent European regulation reaffirms the main principles of organic farming: sustainable management of agriculture, respect for natural balances and biodiversity and promotion of high quality products whose obtaining does not harm the environment or the environment. human health, or the health of plants, animals or their well-being.


Plants grown according to the organic production method must be derived from seeds or vegetative reproductive material whose parent plant, in the case of seeds, and the parent plant (s), in the case of vegetative reproductive material, have been produced :

  • without the use of genetically modified organisms and / or any products derived from the said organisms
  • and according to the organic production method on plots already converted for at least one generation or, in the case of perennial crops, two growing periods.


In order to better regulate the offer of organic products in the catering sector, specifications for out-of-home catering of a commercial nature in organic farming were approved by interministerial decree of 28 November 2011 .

It defines 3 levels of catering commitment in terms of organic supply and sets guidelines for communication:

  • Case 1: one or more foods or ingredients are organic

Example: organic bread, organic eggplants, unprepared food by the operator, reheated but not processed or assembled to other commodities (mixed salad bought as is from a supplier, ratatouille already cooked …)

  • Case 2: a dish or a menu is organic

Example: organic lasagne, organic seasonal menu

  • Case 3: all dishes or menus offered to consumers are organic

It also lays down the procedures relating to controls and notification obligations with Agence Bio.


In order to be able to feed pets with organic animal and / or plant products, specifications for “pet food based on raw materials from the organic production method” were approved by interministerial decree of 16 February 2004. It specifies the method of preparation, labeling, control and certification of pet food: dogs, cats and also all species of pets as and when demand increases.


1 – The import modalities of products from organic farming

Products from organic farming can be imported into the European Union if guarantees are provided on the respect of production rules of organic farming in third countries.

The import arrangements for products from organic farming are governed by European regulations:

Commission Regulation No 1235/2008 of 8 December 2008 laying down detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 as regards the arrangements for importing organic products from third countries . This regulation is regularly updated by the European Commission.

All batches of organic products imported from countries outside the European Union must be accompanied by a certificate of inspection, which must be submitted to the competent authority before each release for free circulation in the European Union.

This inspection certificate is issued by a control authority or an inspection body recognized as equivalent by the European Union or a third country recognized as equivalent by the European Union.

All importers of organic products in the European Union are subject to the AB control system and must notify their activity to Agence Bio.

This certificate is not necessary for Switzerland and the countries of the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein).

2 – Implementation of the electronic certificate for imported organic products

In order to secure imports of organic products, the inspection certificate for organic products is now an electronic certificate issued via the TRACES application developed by the European Commission and already used for other import controls including veterinary and sanitary .

The use of an electronic certificate eliminates the possibility of issuing false certificates thus providing a stronger guarantee for consumers.

Regulation (EU) No 1842/16 lays down a transition period between 19 April 2017 and 19 October 2017. These changes have led to a change in the administrative organization for the control of biological inspection certificates in France. Formerly provided by the customs services, these controls are henceforth taken in charge by the following competent authorities:

  • DGCCRF (Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control) for products of non-animal origin,
  • DGAL (Directorate-General for Food), including the services of SIVEP (veterinary and phytosanitary inspection service) for animal and animal products and animal feed.

The flows of goods are channeled through the various designated entry points (DCPs) by the competent authorities, in order to ensure appropriate controls as appropriate. The organic inspection certificates must mention in box 9 the PED to which the goods will be presented.

3 – Equivalence regimes

The European regulation on organic production determines harmonized specifications for the whole of the European Union (as well as for Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland members of the European Economic Area).

Equivalence with third countries

Some third countries have developed their own regulations including specifications but also a control system.

The European Union recognizes some of these third countries as equivalent, that is to say that following an assessment it was considered that the production rules were close and that the means committed to ensure the same level of requirement for the consumer.

These acknowledgments may be partial for certain categories of products.

The number of third countries recognized as equivalent as well as the field of recognition evolves according to the trade agreements concluded by the European Union and the discussions initiated with these third countries.

In September 2017, the following countries were recognized as equivalent for the import of organic products:

Argentina, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Tunisia, United States of America, as well as members of the European Economic Area.

Equivalence of certification bodies

For the majority of third countries, the regulation and the local control system do not provide sufficient guarantees. Organic products imported from these third countries must therefore be certified by a certification body (CB) whose activity has been recognized as equivalent by the European Commission. These bodies are listed in Annex IV to Regulation (EU) No 1235/2008.

To be recognized as equivalent, a certification body must be accredited according to the product certification standard (ISO / IEC 17065: 2012), providing assurance that the procedures, means and skills allow for the implementation of impartial and quality control. In addition, the production standard must be evaluated as equivalent by the European Commission and the latter regularly organizes audits to verify their application.

These acknowledgments may be partial for certain categories of products and for third countries.

4- Equivalence agreement for organic products between Europe and the United States

In February 2012, the US authorities and the European Commission signed an agreement to recognize equivalence of production conditions and control measures applied by the United States and the European Union on products from organic farming.

This agreement, provided for in Regulation (EC) [No 126/2012] in force since 1 June 2012 , allows European products covered by the scope of equivalence and certified according to Regulation (EC) No 834 / 2007 amended, to be marketed in the United States with the endorsements relating to organic farming. Reciprocally, the American organic products certified according to the NOP (National Organic Program) can be imported into the European Union with the mentions relating to organic farming.

Imports of organic products from the United States must be accompanied by a certificate of inspection, as previously stated on the third country equivalence regime.

Exports of organic products to the United States must be accompanied by a certificate “NOP Import Certificate” supplemented by the certifying body of the exporter, attached to the certificate of non treatment antibiotic applicable to products derived from animals.

Organic products covered by the scope of equivalence that are exchanged between the European Union and the United States must comply with the labeling rules in force in the country of destination.

Certain mentions are compulsory on the labeling of the products intended for the American market, namely:

  • the biological indication for each organic ingredient,
  • the reference to the inspection body as follows: “Certified organic by Name of the EU Certifying Body”.
  • other terms are allowed  : the USDA logo (NOP), the term “organic”, the% organic ingredients

The organic logos of the European Union and the USDA can be used. In this case the rules for the use of these logos must be respected.

Special case of wine

When the equivalence agreement was signed, the European Union did not have organic production rules adopted at Community level. However, wine is not excluded from this agreement.

Consequently, any certification body approved to certify organic wine in Europe may carry out the inspection and issue the export certificate. However, the wine must comply with the specifications and the labeling rules set by the NOP.

Conversely, a wine controlled by a US certification body listed in Annex III of amended Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008, and complying with the rules for wine-making and labeling in force in the European Union, may be imported from United States.

Leave a Reply

Connect with:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *