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The suffix "bio" is one of the most used and sought after in recent years, with regard to agricultural and food production. But which products can be defined as truly organic? Here is the legislative framework that dictates the rules to be respected for an authentically "green" cultivation. It is not enough, in fact, to define a bio product so that it is healthy, there are precise rules to follow in order to have healthy and tasty food. what are the most important rules.
The advent of "bio"
In the last two decades of the last century and in particular from 1990 onwards, a "green" philosophy has developed all over the world and in particular in Europe, which has led to the approach of an increasing number of people to the so-called organic products, both in the field of cultivation and in that of breeding animals for food. To influence the growing demand to underline, among the many, two main factors: the greater awareness on the part of the population of the risks deriving from the so-called intensive agriculture; the results of increasingly alarming medical and scientific research on the damage caused to the environment (and consequences to people) by the massive use of toxic chemicals (such as pesticides) in vegetable crops.
The current legislation
Since 1991, with the increase in demand and supply of organic products, the European Commission has moved through the EC regulation n. 2092/91, to define a legislative framework capable of regulating production and guaranteeing the needs of consumers. Subsequently these rules were supplemented by further acts, in particular Regulation 834/2007 and that still in force, Reg. 889/2008 (integrated later by Reg. 1235/2008), all issued by the European Commission and to which the various countries have necessarily had to call for specific national laws (for Italy refer to DM 18354 of 2009). This is a complex regulation, which together regulates both agricultural production and animal husbandry from a biological point of view and which also includes a series of rules to be respected for the use of the organic label, labeling and trade. with third countries. The regulation also includes a large section for controls, one of the most delicate aspects in this area.
The rules to be respected
As far as organic vegetable production is concerned, there are two basic elements at the center of the legislation: the absolute prohibition of the use of any type of genetically modified organism (GMO) and the attention paid to biodiversity.
With the first one sets a founding stone for the return to a cycle of authentic nature, severing biological production from intensive production and vigorously re-evaluating ancient peasant traditions.
Through the second, a positive value for biodiversity is also legally conferred, thus giving a cultural message of particular importance. In organic farming, in fact, every natural organism, from the smallest to the largest, must be respected in equal measure, as it is fundamental for a correct and above all healthy natural production: each element therefore has its function and the higher the presence of natural beneficial organisms that live in the soil and the greater the results in terms of quality of production. Precisely in order to favor the increase of some microorganisms (earthworms, beetles, etc.) and the greater completeness of the ecosystem, the current Regulation provides for crop rotation. An ancient practice, which allows both to enrich and strengthen the soil and the plants cultivated through the different crops and to contrast in a natural way the proliferation of grasses and weeds. Following this logic, only the use of seeds from biological processes is allowed and the use of fertilizers, pesticides and other chemical products, in favor of natural fertilization (coming from animals) is restricted (to the limit of the prohibition). In this context, it should be emphasized that the possibility of resorting to a limited number of plant protection products for the prevention of damage and for cleaning can be allowed only by the Commission itself or by authorized bodies.
Regulatory organic agriculture: controls
It should be immediately clarified, in this context, that this form of cultivation is the only form of agriculture subjected to European and national laws. In consideration of the vast legislative framework in force, a uniform Control System has been developed throughout the European Union. In our country there are nine control bodies, recognized with a specific decree of the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies and subjected themselves to controls by the Ministry and Regions.
The control system has a dual purpose: on the one hand, to verify that companies that decide to convert their production by focusing on organic production follow the strict rules of detoxification of the soil, particularly if toxic substances have previously been widely used. On the other hand, check that those who start an organic production, with the consequent marketing of the products, respect the correct methods and ensure the total traceability of their production. In this case the body in charge can carry out several surprise inspections during the year, taking samples to be analyzed.
As can be noted, above all in recent years the guarantees for consumers with respect to this type of production have been increasing and this is to the benefit of the quality of the products on the market.
Finally, it should be noted that in Italy - in addition to the institutional bodies in charge - the AIAB, the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture, is very active from the point of view of the promotion of "bio" agriculture. takes special care of training.