Concerns have been raised that proposed EU rules aimed at stamping out greenwashing could put further paperwork demands on farmers.

EU farmer and farm co-op group Copa Cogeca has warned that some of the positions agreed by the European Parliament’s environment committee could deepen the bureaucracy facing farmers by requiring them to record and report on measures already verified by authorities.

The committee has tabled a number of amendments to the proposals which aim to clamp down on false environmental claims made by companies advertising and marketing products to consumers.

The position comes on the back of a European Parliament vote in January, which saw MEPs passing a new law which bans the use of “misleading environmental claims” in advertising and marketing.

Double the paperwork

Copa Cogeca’s concerns centre on the proposed requirement for farmers to verify that environmental measures are in place if consumers are to be told that the produce being offered came from a farm rolling out these measures.

However, the farmers’ group maintains that, as participation in eco schemes and agri-environmental schemes are already policed by national and EU authorities, farmers should not have to go through any verification process twice.

Farmers in voluntary CAP environmental schemes “for which a verification process already exists, will be required to repeat the verification if they decide to communicate on them” to consumers, Copa Cogeca said.

Parliament’s committee on agriculture had recommended that environmental claims relating to farm schemes should be allowed without the need for a second verification process, but the latest environment committee vote disputes this position on the proposed rules.

Claims screened

The proposal tabled by the European Commission last year would require environmental claims being made on any products, including agri-food goods, to be backed up science before they can appear before consumers.

A verification framework is to be established which would require those selling goods to get claim approval before they can communicate their message to consumers and with those who breach the rules to face fines.

These would include claims made about a product’s greenhouse emissions or impacts on biodiversity, with additional rules to apply to any claim comparing two products.

It is estimated that half of all environmental claims made in marketing are untrue, according to the Parliament’s environment committee.