Development of organic farming
Recommendation 1636 (2003)

Doc. 10302
4 October 2004

Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 898th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (30 September 2004)

1.         The Committee of Ministers has considered with much interest Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1636 (2003) on the development of organic farming and shares the concern of the Parliamentary Assembly for organic farming in the context of multifunctional farming as part of rural development policy catering for social and environmental needs and has brought it to the attention of member governments.

2.         It recalls that this issue was dealt with by the "High-level Pan-European Conference on Agriculture and Biodiversity: towards integrating biological and landscape diversity for sustainable agriculture in Europe", held in Paris from 5-7 June 2002, organised within the framework of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy, for which the Council of Europe shares responsibility.  This Conference being the first step in following up the Declaration of the 4th Ministerial Conference "An Environment for Europe" held in Aarhus in 1998, which noted that further action for the environment was required in the field of agriculture.

3.         The Committee of Ministers notes that the Conference in Paris adopted the "Final Declaration on the conservation and sustainable use of biological and landscape diversity in the framework of agricultural policies and practices".  There, participants examined and discussed recommendations for policy and practice arising from over twenty five expert papers.  The work carried out under the Council of Europe Convention on Biological Diversity and other biodiversity-related conventions was taken into consideration. Some of these recommendations promoted organic farming and other alternative sustainable farm management systems.

4.         The Committee of Ministers also draws the Assembly’s attention to the report of the network of European Environmental Advisory Councils (EEAC) on a sustainable agricultural policy.

5.         As regards the Assembly’s proposal for drawing up a European charter for organic food and farming, the Committee of Ministers considers that the grounds for it should be further investigated, also taking into account the many existing initiatives in Europe.

6.         The Committee responsible for the activities of the Council of Europe in the field of Biological and Landscape Diversity (CO-DBP) will take Recommendation 1636 (2003) of the Parliamentary Assembly into consideration when discussing the possible activities related to organic farming, in the framework of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy and the Pan-European Ecological Network.

7.         The Committee of Ministers supports the Assembly’s proposal that national action plans should be drawn up paying special attention to the conservation and sustainable use of native animal breeds and plant varieties.