Producers are questioning the organic certification of agricultural produce imported onto the European market as the requirements are not the same. UGPBAN (The Union of Banana Producers of Guadeloupe and Martinique) is speaking out against so called organic bananas imported from South America or Africa. These bananas represent 10% of the 6 million tons commercialised in Europe each year (8% in France).
Eric de Lucy, President of UGPBAN says that consumers are being fooled into believing they are buying organic bananas, when in fact they are conventionally farmed using pesticides and fertilisers that are banned in Europe. “It is impossible to produce 40 tons per hectare organically, like in the Ecuadorian or Dominican plantations that I have visited, without these treatments. It is unfair competition”.
Yet these bananas are authorised to be sold as organic produce in Europe because they have been certified as organic by international organisations approved by Brussels. They are considered as the organic “equivalent” by the EU. Eric de Lucy says that they want stricter criteria that matches European norms in order to have the organic label.
Other agricultural products are concerned by the situation and UGPBAN and 37 other European agricultural organisations have sent a petition to the Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan and the French Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane LeFoll denouncing the situation. The document states that the inequality of the equivalence regime is a danger for European farmers, their employees and consumers.
Whilst bananas produced by the 600 UGPBAN producers are not organic, they have reduced pesticide usage by -61% between 2006-2016.