USDA again probes National Organic Program’s ‘weak’ import controls, putting label’s integrity at risk

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The USDA’s National Organic Program completed more complaint reviews and investigations that it received in 2017.  It finished work on 462 reviews and investigations while receiving 379 incoming complaints during the fiscal year 2017 ending last Sept. 30.

Organic sales topped $68.8 billion on the steady growth of about 5 percent a year. More than eight out of ten households made organic purchases. And 4.1 million acres out of 915 million acres of U.S. farmland was reportedly dedicated organic production on about 15,000 farms.

However, the National Organic Program’s (NOP) weak controls over organic imports, again came under scrutiny from USDA’s Office of Inspector General, putting the integrity of the USDA organic label at risk. The OIG found produce shipments of all kinds are fumigated at the border with pesticides to prevent pests from entering the U.S. And, a weak import certificate system imposed by NOP in 2012 has not prevented organics for getting the same treatment.

“Fraudulent certificates may have been created and used without the knowledge of the operator or the certifying agent named in the certificates,” according to NOP.

“The posting of the fraudulent certificates does not necessarily mean that the named business or certifying agent was involved in illegal activity. If a business named on the fraudulent certificate is certified, its certifying agent, identified in the list of certified operations, can provide additional information and verification to the organic trade.”

Read full, original post: USDA’s organic enforcement efforts find fraudulent certificates

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