India’s Organic certification process is easier as the UK waives the ‘ETO’ test on Organic Imports. Since July 1, the UK no longer has to test imports of Indian organic products for ethylene oxide (ETO).
This is a big deal and a vote of confidence in the organic certification process in India, especially when it comes to getting rid of ETO contamination.
The UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) made it a requirement on January 1 of this year to test Indian organic products. But the deadline for testing for ETO contamination was June 30. So, the importer of organic products from India to the UK no longer has to test them, said the UK Soil Association.
Defra will still keep an eye on the imports of organic products from India, though.
May change the Europian Union
S. Chandrasekaran, a trade analyst who tracks shipments of organic products from India, says that the ‘UK’s decision to stop making it mandatory to test Indian organic agriculture products for ETO contamination is a great recognition of the changes made to India’s Organic Agriculture Certification system.
Getting rid of ETO contamination tests in the UK could now make the European Union (EU) do the same. ‘If the UK makes such a choice, the EU might do the same. The UK has strict rules for testing food,’ he said.
Up until last year, the EU found ETO in a lot of Indian organic shipments and sent them back. But it looks like things are getting better now.
This will make it easier for India to reach a deal with the EU on a free trade agreement. ‘In the next few months, you can expect to get more attention,’ Chandrasekaran said.
The change in the UK comes at the same time that the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), which is in charge of organic farming and product production and exports in India, has started cracking down on certification problems.
Three agencies, including one in Europe, broke the rules during the certification process, so APEDA took action against them two weeks ago. The National Accreditation Board (NAB) for organic products took away its approval from one certification agency and canceled it. It also told the European Union about the third one.
It has also fined all three agencies that certify things. Before this, in January of this year, APEDA took TQ Cert off the market for similar problems.
More importantly, APEDA banned five certifying agencies in November of last year after it was found that organic products they had certified for export did not meet the ETO standards of the European Commission.
In the last couple of years, India has sold about $1 billion worth of organic products to the US, EU, and Canada.