Organic industry forms ‘anti-fraud task force’ following discovery of ‘contaminated’ USDA-certified imports

| | June 14, 2017
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

A task force convened by the Organic Trade Association will get to work [June 2017] on developing a best-practices guide for the private sector to use in verifying its international supply chains, said Laura Batcha, OTA’s CEO and executive director. The move is in part a response to a report in The Washington Post [May 2017] that documented how three shipments of fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans entered the United States from Turkey. The task force plans to share information with organic certification agencies as well, and will likely include in the final document a recommendation that importers report to the USDA National Organic Program when they reject shipments and why, Batcha told [Politico’s Morning Agriculture].

The OTA would like to see a more risk-focused system at NOP, so that when unusual trends or anomalies in trade of organic goods are spotted, the agency will alert industry to advise heightened vigilance, Batcha said, noting the organization doesn’t typically disclose task-force membership. … During the last five years, certifiers have suspended or revoked 900 operations, said Miles McEvoy, chief of the NOP. And for nearly a year the agency has been conducting an investigation on potential fraud in organic corn and soybean imports from Turkey, which have spiked significantly since 2014, McEvoy said.

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