WASHINGTON – Organic products certified in Europe or in the United States may be sold as organic in either region beginning June 1, the US Department of Agriculture announced on Feb. 15. Formal letters creating this partnership were signed in Nuremberg, Germany during the recently held BioFach World Organic Fair, the world's largest trade show for organic products.

The partnership eliminates significant trade barriers, according to USDA. Growers and companies wanting to trade organic products in Europe and the US had to obtain separate certifications to two standards, which meant a double set of fees, inspections and paperwork. Under the new agreement, all products meeting the terms of the partnership can be traded and labeled as certified organic produce, meat, cereal or wine.

Also, all products traded under the partnership must be shipped with an organic export certificate, which serves to:

  • verify the production location;
  • identify the organization that certified the organic product;
  • verify that prohibited substances and methods weren't used;
  • certify that the terms of the partnership were met; and
  • allow traded products to be tracked.

USDA said both parties individually determined that their programs were equivalent except for the prohibition on the use of antibiotics. USDA organic regulations prohibit the use of antibiotics except to control invasive bacterial infections (fire blight) in organic apple and pear orchards. EU organic regulations allow antibiotics only to treat infected animals. Certifying agents must verify that antibiotics were not used for any reason for all products traded under this partnership.