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FNC to debate organic food authenticity

House member demands assurances products maintain organic integrity

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A member of the Federal National Council (FNC) will on Tuesday seek answers from Dr Thani Bin Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, on the authenticity of "organic products” available in the UAE markets.

Azza Sulaiman Bin Sulaiman, a member of the FNC from Dubai, said consumers of organic products want to know that locally-grown and foreign agricultural products maintain their organic integrity from farm to table.

“Consumers buy organic produce because they believe it’s grown locally and without pesticides, but is there any on-site inspections of the local farms and investigation of proper certification of imported organic products so that consumers are provided with reasonable assurance that locally-grown and imported products labelled as organic are from certified organic farms and businesses that produce and sell organic products,” Bin Sulaiman said.

The member warned that the lack of definitive test to identify whether a product is organic or not is the core of the potential fraud, that should be addressed as the UAE places food safety and security at the top of its policy priorities and is proceeding to deliver the highest possible rates for national food security and its sustainability.

She also wants to know whether imported organic produce was fumigated with prohibited pesticides or not.

Bin Sulaiman affirmed organic is primarily a certification of processes and unless consumers value these processes and trust in the certification system. the integrity of organic industry will be jeopardised.

The member will also seek answer on whether imported “organic” foods — especially fruits and vegetables — meet UAE organic standards “If these foods were sprayed with non-organic pesticides, they are not organic. If cows are fed non-organic grains, the milk they produce is not organic. If officials did not conduct on-site inspections of international exporters, and only relied on the word of the exporting country, there is no way to have confidence the crops or goods shipped here are really organic. This means many of our organic products probably do not meet organic labelling requirements. Same goes for any meat, sold as organic,” Bin Sulaiman said.

Bin Sulaiman added this should raise major red flags about the authenticity of these products asking what did the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment do to make sure the organic farms and companies were not misleading consumers.

Bin Sulaiman will also put another question about criteria of using chemical fertilisers — a practice may result in the exposure of organic agricultural products to prohibited substances.

Salem Ali Al Shehi, a member from Ras Al Khaimah, will raise a question about environment pollution in certain areas in the UAE and Hamad Al Rahoumi, a member from Dubai will ask a question concerning transport and trading of palm trees.

The House will also debate the Ministry of justice’s policy to upgrade laws.