Is permitted the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in organic production?

The use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and of products manufactured from GMOs is still prohibited in organic production. Products containing GMOs may not be labelled as organic unless the ingredients containing GMOs entered the products unintentionally and the GMO proportion in the ingredient is less than 0.9%.

Is hydroponic cultivation allowed in organic production?

No, it is prohibited according to REGULATION (EC) No 889/2008, Article 4.
Organic plant production is based on nourishing the plants primarily through the soil ecosystem.
Therefore hydroponic cultivation, where plants grow with their roots in an inert medium with soluble minerals and nutrients, is not allowed.

Is the use of chemical synthetic resources permitted in organic production?

In organic farming, closed cycles with the use of the internal resources are preferred to open cycles with the supply of external resources. Ideally, external resources should be limited to organic resources from other organic farms, natural or naturally obtained materials and low soluble mineral fertilisers. In exceptional cases, however, chemical synthetic resources may be permitted if suitable alternatives are lacking. These are only authorised and listed in positive lists in the Annex of the Commission Regulation after a thorough investigation by the Commission and the Member States.

Are ‘organic’ animals ‘free range’?

Yes, but with even more benefits. All animals raised organically are automatically free-range because the rules demand it. They must have access to the outdoors (weather permitting) and be held below certain stocking densities. In addition, there are all the other benefits of the organic system.

Do organic farmers use antibiotics and veterinary medicines on their animals?

Animal-health management is mainly based on prevention of disease. Furthermore, specific cleaning and disinfection measures are applied.

The preventive use of chemically-synthesised allopathic medicinal products is not permitted in organic farming. However, in the event of a sickness or injury of an animal requiring an immediate treatment, the use of chemically synthesised allopathic medicinal products is limited to a strict minimum. Furthermore, in order to guarantee the integrity of organic production for consumers restrictive measures are taken, such as the doubling of  the withdrawal period after the use of chemically synthesised allopathic medicinal products.

Are formulations that are approval for organic farming in Greece?

In Greece there are no currently approved formulations for organic farming. The products which can be used are those approved for the crop and do not contain non-permitted by applicable law substances.

Without the help of specialty chemicals, can organic farming produce enough food to feed the world?

Yes, it can.
The main problem with the world’s food supply is that it isn’t distributed fairly. Often this is for political reasons, such as trade disputes or civil war. Food exists, but people can’t get access to it. These problems need to be addressed by governments and international organisations, urgently.
In the West, the problem is overproduction, and to combat this, about 10% of farmland has to be set-aside each year to reduce production. When land is turned over to organic production, there is a decrease in the amount of food it produces. But over time (about four years), as the soil becomes more fertile, output increases.

What foods are labeled as 'organic'?

Foods may only be labeled as "organic" if at least 95% of their agricultural ingredients are organic. Organic ingredients in non-organic food may be listed as organic in the list of ingredients, as long as this food has been produced in accordance with the organic legislation. In order to ensure better transparency, the code number of the control body must be indicated.

Which producer is required to use the EU organic logo?

According to the new legislation, producers of packaged organic food must use the EU organic logo as of 1 July 2010. The use of the logo on organic foods from third countries, however, is optional. When the EU organic logo is used, the place of production of the agricultural ingredients must be indicated starting on 1 July 2010.

What is the status of mass catering operations with organic production?

Mass catering operations shall not be subject to the Council Regulation. Member States may apply national rules or, in the absence thereof, private standards, on labelling and control of products originating from mass catering operations, in so far as the said rules comply with Community Law.

What is the status of imports of organic products from third countries?

The distribution of organic products from third countries is only permitted on the common market, when they are produced and controlled under the same or equivalent conditions. The import regime has been expanded with the new legislation. Previously, only organic goods from third countries recognised by the EU or goods whose production was controlled by the Member States and which had received an import licence could be imported.

The procedure for import licences will in future be replaced by a new import regime. Control bodies working in third countries will then be directly authorised and monitored by the European Commission and the Member States.

This new procedure allows the EU Commission to supervise and better monitor the import of organic products and the control of the organic guarantees.

Why should I support organic farming?

From a consumer point of view, organic farming creates food and drinks of authentic quality produced without chemical synthetic pesticides. When you buy organic products, you are also supporting a sector that brings forth additional benefits such as environmental care, increased biodiversity, animal welfare and rural development.

How does organic farming help the environment?

It is important for organic farmers to protect and enhance natural assets and maintain ecological balances:
• Protecting soil and water
• Enhancing biodiversity
• Responsible use of energy and resources

For life on earth

Organic farming tries to achieve a closed nutrient cycle on the farm by applying green and livestock manure, compost and legumes for fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere.
Organic matter and cover crops increase the number of micro-organisms, earthworms, beetles, spiders and other soil life.

A long term crop rotation, mechanical and physical cultivation methods and selection of appropriate crops and varieties can replace the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

Natural stewardship

The use of natural and local resources is central to organic farming and is always done with careful management to preserve nature. Organic production always recycles farm wastes and by-products of plant- and animal production as compost and manure.

The use of alternative plant protection techniques play a major role in protecting water and soil from being contaminated. Hedges used as windbreaks and field margins with natural vegetation minimise soil erosion, increase biodiversity and provide shelter for natural enemies of pests. Organic farming prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms.

Protecting our assets

Soil and water are essential components for fostering life on earth and organic farming not only protects, but enhances soil life and fertility and water quality.

Providing plant nourishment through the soil ecosystem ensures the growth of beneficial organisms in the soil and the creation of a healthy and fertile soil texture.

Other organic farming practices such as mixed grazing, green manure crops to cover the soil after harvesting, and retaining hedges and meadows, ensure erosion and leaching of minerals is kept to a minimum.

These efforts also help to retain water and nutrients in the soil and prevent their runoff to lakes, rivers and streams that might lead to silting and eutrophication. This can, at the same time, reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation in dry areas.

How does organic farming take care of animals?

Organic farmers, take the needs of their animals very seriously, thereby ensuring they thrive and are healthy. In this respect organic farming emphasises:

• Animal welfare
• Animal health

Prevention is better than cure

Organic farmers are prohibited from using synthetic inputs and veterinary medicines as preventive means. It is therefore important for organic farmers to provide a healthy environment for their animals.

The wellbeing of organic animals is ensured through precautionary measures and careful health management. The adage “prevention is better than cure” is especially true for organic breeding. Organic farmers prefer to use disease-resistant livestock breeds adapted to local conditions. Their resistance against illnesses is enhanced through regular exercise, appropriate and GMO-free feed and pasture, lower stocking rates and hygienic housing.
If animals get ill or injured they are treated quickly, to minimise suffering. Natural remedies like homeopathy or using plant extracts are preferred. Antibiotics and other veterinary medicine are only used, when there is no other possible cure.

Alive and kicking

The welfare of animals depends on their ability to fulfil their natural behavioural needs, and that they are raised in a stress-free and healthy environment.

Organic animals enjoy pasture, free-range and open-air systems with ample free space. Natural behavioural needs are met for organic poultry being allowed to bath in dust, swim in ponds, graze outside and often live in smaller groups being able to establish social hierarchies.

Bedding and litter are tailored to different species’ needs: Cows, for example, prefer to rest on straw rather than concrete. There has to be ample solid floor space for organic animals to rest on. The use of slatted or grid floors in housing is restricted.

Organic animals are fed with organic feed according to their needs. Suckling mammals must have regular access to natural milk, ideally from their mothers.

Any suffering has to be kept to a minimum throughout the animal’s life. Temporarily tethering or isolation, the reduction of beaks, the removal of tails and horns is strictly regulated and only exceptionally allowed for safety, welfare or veterinary reasons.

How does organic farming help the consumers?

Organic farming responds to your demands by producing a wide variety of high quality food and beverages with:
  • authentic taste
  • traceability and inspections
  • low risk of pesticide residues

Traceability And Inspections - Back To The Source

Consumers like to know where food and beverages come from. Organic labelling provides you with important facts about the product’s origin, such as the name of the producer, processor or vendor and the code of the inspection body that has inspected the operators.

Organic farmers and processors are subject to yearly in-depth inspections to ensure they earn the right to use organic logos and labels. The presence of the EU – and other national logos will help you to recognise certified organic products all over the European Union.

Authentic Taste - The Taste Of Nature

Organic production avoids the use of artificial inputs such as synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Organic food is processed without artificial flavours, flavour enhancers, colours and sweeteners. The use of genetically modified organisms, animal growth hormones is completely banned.

So when you buy organic food and beverages, you will experience their authentic taste.
Increase Your Options

Certified organic production today is not limited to a small range of daily products from the farm such as fruits, vegetables, eggs and potatoes. It is expanding and diversifying, covering a wide range of processed products such as different milk products, fruit juices, olive oil, pastas, breakfast cereals, and even prepared meals available in almost any supermarket.

Organic farming uses a wide range of different sometimes rare varieties of vegetables, fruits and cereals and old animal breeds to allow you to discover new tastes.

How does organic farming help the community?

Organic farming not only provides food and beverages, but
also stimulates social and economic development:

  • sustainable rural development
  • job opportunities
  • connecting producers and consumers
Sustainable Rural Development - Growing Communities

Annual market growth of about 10 % for organic products has resulted in many opportunities for the food supply chain and communities in rural areas.  

The most obvious effect has been an economic boost to farmers, processors, distributors and retailers, but the benefits stretch to other rural businesses directly and indirectly involved with these operations.

A higher level of business activity means more job opportunities and a greater possibility for rural areas to retain and attract inhabitants.

The contribution of organic farming to rural landscapes by maintaining biodiversity and protecting natural habitats is attracting populations to move back to the countryside.

Organic farming ensures that more links in the supply chain become actively involved in rural communities. The advantage is that the number of market channels is increasing, and that more money will stay in these communities as a result.

Job Opportunities - Help Wanted

Job opportunities in organic farming are many and varied. They stretch from the farm to the retail outlet, encompassing the processing and distribution sector, as well as service providers directly and indirectly involved with these operations.

At the farm stage, in particular, organic horticultural production due to its mechanical and physical cultivation methods may be labour intensive. Hand weeding might even be necessary. Organic farmers often take on staff to assist with the higher work demands.

Connecting Producers And Consumers

Organic farming allows producers and consumers to re-establish strong links. Direct marketing is very common. Organic labelling provides consumers with the assurance that the producer, processor or vendor of the organic products has undergone organic inspection. They can be confident that products marketed as organic have been produced by professional and dedicated organic farmers and processors.

Meanwhile the attractiveness of organic farms for agrotourism ventures and open day events allow consumers a first glimpse into how organic food and beverages are produced.