Secondary legislation on ‘Organic Heterogenous Material’ finalized

The secondary legislation on Organic Heterogenous Material (OHM) is in the process of being finalized and soon to be published in the journal of the European Union. This piece of legislation defines the rules for the production and marketing of heterogenous material that can be used in organic agriculture from 1 January 2022, for example in the form of seeds.

The act is a product of thorough discussions between the European Commission, seed companies, organic breeders, amateur variety groups as well as Members of the European Parliament, Member States and the organic sector. IFOAM Organics Europe was involved in the process from the beginning and sent several formal letters on this issue and went into discussion with the EU Commission and other stakeholders to make sure that this act reflects the needs and principles of organic agriculture.

The result of this long process and hard work is a legal text that gets many things right and organic agriculture can work with. OHM provides exciting new opportunities for organic. Now it is now up to organic operators to assess what OHM can do for them and integrate it into production processes.

There are several key facts about OHM you should know as part of the organic food system:

  • OHM is not a mixture of seeds, but a new category of material characterised by a high level of phenotypic and genetic diversity, designed to evolve and adapt to local growing conditions;
  • OHM is not classified as a variety and therefore does not have to be registered as one;
  • Instead of registration, operators producing or marketing OHM, notify OHM to their national authority in a simplified procedure;
  • Description of characteristics shall include the phenotypic characterisation, agronomic aspects such as yield, yield stability, suitability for low input systems, disease resistance, taste or colour. Reference to the country of breeding or production and description of the pedo-climatic conditions are also essential for operators to assess whether OHM will perform well in a certain region;
  • Simplified requirements concern packaging and labelling for small packages (max. quantities defined) for small-scale and amateur use.

IFOAM Organics Europe will inform its members about the final text once its published. For more information on Organic Heterogenous Materials and IFOAM Organics Europe’s work on the issue, please contact [email protected]. Please do note that we prioritise our members’ requests.

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