Wednesday, 14 June 2023 16:25

Organic Bill a long time in the making

Written by  Sophie Preece
Tiffany Tompkins Tiffany Tompkins

The Organic Products and Production Bill represents a big opportunity for New Zealand, from organic exporters to discerning consumers, says Tiffany Tompkins.

The Chief Executive of Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ), the peak body for the organic sector, says the new bill - 10 years in the making - will legally protect the term organic and require those selling organic products to be certified. "The new law is driven by growing demand for organic products both here and overseas," she says.

"Consumers want safe, healthy food with high animal welfare standards, that regenerates the land and waterways, and mitigates climate change. Organics ticks all those boxes." Having a national organic standard will help market access for exporters to existing and new overseas markets, and will be essential in the face of changes to legislation in the European Union, she adds.

In announcing the Bill had passed into law, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said the regulations would give consumers confidence in their choices, while boosting the credibility of New Zealand's organic products on the world stage. "Internationally, an increasing number of countries are requiring compliance with their domestic regimes or certification from equivalent regimes," he said. "A robust domestic standard for our organic products will help to ensure New Zealand's continued access in these markets, as well as open doors in new markets for our premium organic exports."

Environmental economist Alistair Schorn, who is a board member of OANZ, says certified organic labelling is just one of many changes New Zealand's primary producers and exporters will need to consider and comply with in the future, as increasingly stringent environmental regulations emerge in key export markets.

He and Tiffany have prepared a report for the Our Land and Water/Toitū te Whenua, Toiora te Wai National Science Challenge, which evaluates the effects of environmental and sustainability policies in the EU for New Zealand's primary sectors, in the context of the New Zealand-EU Free Trade Agreement.

Alistair says one of the pertinent changes for New Zealand producers is the European Green Deal - an umbrella of policies focussed on being a climate neutral economy by 2050. They include an outright ban on the importation into the EU of products containing residues of pesticides and agricultural chemicals banned from use in the EU, Alistair says, noting that there are 195 banned chemicals and pesticides in the EU, compared to 27 banned substances in New Zealand.

Tiffany says another interesting and impactful change is the Green Deal's legislation aimed at eliminating greenwashing  - the practice of making false, misleading or unsubstantial claims around the environmental benefits of a product or service.

Tiffany Tompkins will give an update on OANZ work at the Organic & Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference on Wednesday 21 June:

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