Entrepreneurs in the agriculture and horticulture sectors find GlobalGAP's requirements, for the use of untreated manure in certain vegetables, restrictive. In the coming weeks relevant industry and interest groups will identify difficulties. This survey provides an overview of the problems being caused by the new GlobalGAP rules, it also provides an overview of the most appropriate methods of manure treatment.
The relevant industry and interest groups are Biohuis, GroentenFruit Huis, LTO Nederland, certification organizations and GlobalGAP's National Technical Working Group (NTWG). With their own supporters, they are identifying where the requirements are causing difficulties. In recent weeks there was a lot of commotion regarding tightening the rules around the use of untreated manure, "The new requirements are intended to prevent food-borne illnesses," says Paul Bol, secretary for NTWG. "Fruits and vegetables are healthy, but contamination from bacteria, viruses or fungi cannot be completely ruled out. Manure (fertilizer), water and humans could cause incidental microbial contamination. That is why there are strict precautionary measures and hygiene rules."
According to Paul, the use of animal manure in conventional and organic farming is important for healthy soil, healthy crops and recycling nutrients, "GlobalGAP has long set requirements for the application of untreated manure because it is a potential source of infection for germs and harvest. The newest GlobalGAP requirements state that fruit and vegetable products that are eaten raw and/or are unprocessed, may not come into contact with untreated manure. There are no restrictions for using treated manure. This also applies to the category of products that are always heated before being consumed. If the edible part of a raw eaten vegetable does not come into contact with the ground during cultivation, then untreated manure may not be used for at least three months before the harvest. If the edible part of a raw eaten vegetable does come into contact with the ground during cultivation, then this period lasts six months."
The Dutch survey provides an overview of the classification of crops in these categories, "This makes it clear for a grower when they have to wait six months and when they have to wait three, and which waiting period applies to which crops," says Paul. "The study also brings into focus which types of manure treatment are available and whether the treatment is adequate to control the microbiological risks of pathogens. The organizations then use the result to translate GlobalGAP's requirements into practical use for Dutch growers. They also look at practical solutions for the difficult points. Early next year the results of the survey will be completed and discussed at a NTWG meeting."
The organizations that are now busy with the Dutch interpretation of the GlobalGAP requirements argue that food safety is paramount. According to Paul, the joint action should result in companies being given concrete tools to solve any problems, "Food safety is a responsibility for every part of the chain: farmers, horticulturists, processors and the potato, fruit and vegetable trade. Recent large outbreaks of food-borne illnesses and changing consumption patterns - such as increased consumption of raw products - demand additional requirements."