You Can Stop Fake Organics

July 30, 2020

A new proposed rule will strengthen organic enforcement—it needs our support. Action Alert!

The rule, put together by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is urgently needed given widespread fraud that has been reported in the organics industry. The level of deception has reached epidemic proportions: a USDA study found that 40% of all organic food sold in the US tested positive for prohibited pesticides. The rule takes a number of positive steps that, if implemented, will help restore some consumer confidence in the organics industry. The USDA must not delay in enacting these measures.

The rule includes many changes to how the organic supply chain operates. One of the key provisions is reducing the entities that operate in the organic supply chain without organic certification. Currently, there are many middlemen—brokers, handlers, etc.—that do not need to be certified, which has led to several instances of fraud totaling millions of dollars.

For example, organic grains are often stored in grain elevators, which do not need to be certified organic. Because grain elevators don’t need to be certified, the National Organic Program (NOP) cannot require organic certifiers to investigate onsite activities of these elevators. Investigations have found criminals using loopholes to funnel nonorganic feedstuffs through uncertified grain elevators.

According to the proposed rule, “Organic certification would subject [grain elevators] to regular, systematic oversight from accredited certifying agents and allow the NOP to monitor these entities’ activities through on-site investigations, ensuring faster detection and prevention of millions of dollars in organic fraud.”

The proposed rule also requires organic import certificates from all countries. Incredibly, current regulations only require organic import certificates from the European Union, Switzerland, Japan, and South Korea—countries the NOP has determined use an equivalent system of organic certification. This proposed rule would require that any organic agricultural product imported to the United States be associated with a valid NOP Import Certificate or equivalent data source. This will provide trackable and auditable verification that a specific shipment complies with USDA organic regulations.

The rule clarifies the NOP’s authority to oversee certification activities, including the authority to act against an agent or office of a certifying agent.

The above changes were mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill, but the USDA outlines a host of additional discretionary actions that are being proposed, such as:

  • Specifying the minimum number of unannounced inspections of certified operations that must be conducted annually by accredited certifying agents and requiring that supply chain audits be completed during on-site inspections.
  • Requiring certifying agents to issue standardized certificates of organic operation. Standardization will simplify the verification of valid organic certificates and import certificates.
  • Clarifying that certified operations only need to submit changes to their organic system plan during annual updates and clarifying that certifying agents must conduct annual inspections of certified operations. This will reduce the paperwork burden for organic operations and ensure that all organic operations are inspected at least once a year.
  • Establishing specific qualification and training requirements for certifying agent personnel, including inspectors and certification reviewers.
  • Clarifying conditions for establishing, evaluating, and terminating equivalence determinations with foreign government organic programs, based on an evaluation of their organic foreign conformity systems. This will ensure the compliance of organic products imported from countries that have organic equivalence determinations with the United States.

A full summary of all the proposed changes in the rule can be found here.

As mentioned above, changes to USDA’s approach to ensuring the integrity of the organic seal are desperately needed. The level of fraud that goes on is an outrage, and for a long time the USDA showed no signs of deviating from business as usual. It took action from industry stakeholders and angry consumers to spur the agency to action.

We need to support this rule to reduce organic fraud to protect organic farmers trying to do the right thing as well as consumers who pay a premium to buy what they believe to be clean food.

As we’ve written before, cronyism has marred the organics program from the beginning, with large companies working to water down organic standards to take advantage of the organic label without adhering to the spirit of organic agriculture. This is just one way that cronyism is threatening our health: we’ve also been telling you about the federal government’s censorship of doctors who try to inform the public about natural ways of preventing and treating COVID-19 infection. We must fight back against the many ways in which government cronyism prevents us from using clean, organic foods and inexpensive natural medicines to stay healthy.

Action Alert! Write to the USDA and tell them to move quickly to address organic fraud by implementing the proposed rule. Please send your message immediately. By sending this message, you will also be supporting our petition to ungag doctors so that they can share with patients the benefits of supplements and natural treatments for COVID.

 

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19 responses to “You Can Stop Fake Organics”

  1. Remy de Laroque says:

    strengthen regulations to assure organic produce have no pesticides

  2. Bharat Adarkar says:

    Ungag doctors so that they can share with patients the benefits of supplements and natural treatments for COVID.

  3. Linda says:

    If it says Organic than it needs to be!!!

  4. Barbara says:

    We pay a substantial price in order to get ORGANIC and it needs to be ORGANIC! We need to be able to trust something!

  5. Rosalind Reynolds says:

    STOP THE LIES !!!

  6. Jeanne Stanborough says:

    I eat organic all the time and want to make sure I am
    purchasing the real thing!

  7. KAY FLORER says:

    We are paying higher prices for food without pesticides. It’s FRAUD TO CLAIN IT IS WITHOUT PESTICIDES WHEN IT IS NOT

  8. Kathryn Lloyd-Woodard says:

    Address Organic Fraud NOW-do your job for the People.

    Ungag doctors so that they can share with patients the benefits of supplements and natural treatments for COVID.Stop Censureship this is the USA

  9. Khaya Davidson says:

    There are many natural and affordable ways to strengthen the body’s immune system and protect yourself from infection. The public has a right to know about them!

  10. Rossen Vassilev Jr says:

    We must ungag doctors so that they can share with patients the benefits of supplements and natural treatments for COVID. We must also ban fake organics.

  11. Mary Kekalia says:

    We have the right to choose what we put into our bodies and to know exactly what we are consuming. Because of the dishonesty that is gpoing on with processed food I find myself avoiding it more and more. I have lost all faith in government agencies who are supposed to be monitoring these issues and protecting us from these frauds!

  12. EVAGELIA LAGOUVARDOU says:

    Hello,
    I am in Greece and I cannot send petitions because i don’t have a Zip code that is accepted.

    • ANH-USA says:

      Hi Evagelia,

      Thank you for your support! Unfortunately you must have a U.S. registered address to sign our petition. This requirement is regulated by Congress and government agencies, and sadly we can’t change it. We do, however, have a sister organization in the UK called Alliance for Natural Health International. You can check our their website https://www.anhinternational.org/ where they post regular articles and videos on natural health care and freedom of choice.

  13. Elaine Stubblefield says:

    The people should be able to depend on the label. If it says organic then it should be organic with no pesticides. We are poisoned enough with all the Roundup and sprays that are still allowed to be used. Something needs to be done to get rid of these cancer producing products.

  14. Trina Unker says:

    Please stop censoring access to natural health treatments for COVID-19. This is unconstitutional, and many of these natural alternatives can be life saving.

  15. Charlie Burns says:

    Keep it real

  16. Kevin M McCarron says:

    I am writing to you concerning docket number AMS-NOP-17-0065, NOP-17-02, and RIN 0581-AD09.

    Not only am I an Honorably Discharged Veteran (U.S.M.C.), but I am also a former farm hand. [I later earned my Master’s in Economics.] And I urge the USDA to adopt this proposed rule to protect those hard-working farmers who are trying to do the right thing by growing purely organic foodstuffs, as well as consumers.

    Having worked on a small farm, I know that the economic profit margins of such enterprises are quite tight. Producing food organically allows such farms, particularly in small Northeastern States (e.g. Maine, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts) to survive. However, if large agro-industrial entities are flooding the market with food that is not truly organic, small farms that are trying to do the right thing will see their profit margins shrink to the point where they might no longer be viable as farms. And, on the other side, we as consumers rely on the USDA “seal of approval” to tell what has been grown organically and what has not. We, the common citizens, need this rule in place to protect us.

    Please have this proposed rule adopted and implemented in its entirety as quickly as possible, for the sake of myriad small organic farms and for us consumers.

  17. Susan Vogt says:

    strengthen regulations

  18. tom says:

    do you really want the government to advise us about healthy food? this is better left in the private sector.

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