Seals are intended to ensure transparency in the organic market. But what exactly is the difference between “Bio light” and “Premium-Bio”? How do the certifications work and what do they mean for producers? We offer you an overview of soil and plant protection.

There is a fundamental difference between farms that are certified with the EU seal or the private seals: The growers’ associations prescribe total farm conversion, while the EU regulations allow partial conversions of farms. One and the same farm can thus operate half conventionally and half ecologically within the framework of the EU certificate – theoretically, this also allows the transfer of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or even genetically modified material to organic products.

Fertilization

An EU organic farm may purchase and use other nitrogenous commercial fertilizers in addition to farm manure (animal excrements) without restriction. Only the amount of farm manure is limited to 170 kg nitrogen per hectare and per year.

In the case of the three associations, the total amount of nitrogen fertilizers permitted annually is limited to a maximum of 112 kilograms per hectare in order to reduce the risk of high nitrate levels, for example in vegetables, and of nitrate leaching into groundwater. The purchase of conventional liquid manure,  poultry manure in the case of the associations is prohibited, as are organic fertilizers from blood, meat and bone meal. The EU does not impose any restrictions on this.

Plant protection and seeds

Chemical pesticides are generally prohibited in organic farming. However, the EU allows the use of pyrethroids (chemical synthetic insecticides) in traps with specific attractants. The limit values for the use of copper in permanent crops (viticulture, fruit growing, hop growing) are about half as low as for the EU label.

While the EU has not regulated hybrids and breeding technology in the field of seeds, the associations prohibit the use of varieties from protoplast or cytoplast fusion (transfer of genetic material from one genus to another in a way that cannot be achieved naturally with conventional breeding techniques) because it represents a transition to genetic engineering methods for them.

In addition to the major topics of ingredients, partial conversion, animal husbandry, fertilization and plant protection, the major growers’ associations have formulated detailed specifications in some areas that are not regulated by the Eco Regulation, for example sustainable product packaging, water consumption or restrictions on greenhouse heating with fossil energy.