Food labels and the environment: towards harmonization of EU and US organic standards


David Winickoff, Kendra Klein


EU, labeling, organic certification harmonization, organic label, United States


book chapter 10, in Transatlantic Reuglatory Cooperation: The Shifting Roles of the EU, the US and California

Year Published:


Policy Summary

Food labeling presents challenges for international harmonization because they embody contingent governmental policies, consumer and producer values, local knowledge and trade policies, as illustrated through battles over labeling GMOS, and bovine growth hormones. These examples also illustrate the persistent differences between the EU and US in the regulatory domains of the environment, agriculture and food safety that make regulatory harmonization difficult. They suggest that the EU and US should recommence equivalency negotiations, especially toward organic prinicples. These negotiations must work toward a globally harmonized system that integrates public and private institutions. Governments should take seriously the involvement of movement and industry actors in the development and revision of organic standards due to the high importance of consumer buy-in. Public participation mechanisms could be formalized in the harmonization processes and could be a vehicle for synthesizing private and public standards. International convergence on more low-hanging-fruit issues may support cooperation on more contentious issues.

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