The organic industry’s most aggressive industry watchdog, Cornucopia Institute, reinforced their call upon USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to correct a chronic pattern of gross incompetence and corruption at the National Organic Program (NOP) with new management.
The letter to Perdue follows our investigation of massive shipments of fraudulent organic grains entering the U.S. from China and Eastern Europe. The labels say organic, but these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t. It’s very easy to sell frankenfood into the U.S. markets, labeled as organic food!
“This is the second organic major-league scandal uncovered this month and it confirms a longstanding pattern of negligence and corruption documented by our researchers,” said Will Fantle, Cornucopia’s Codirector.
Cornucopia has filed numerous formal and well-documented legal complaints seeking to force the USDA to examination of a wide range of wrong doings at organic factory farms and other industry scofflaws. All too often the complaints have been dismissed without investigation, or, when found meritorious, penalties have been negotiated down to a light slap on the wrist for offenders with details cloaked in secrecy.
The organic sector is a robust and rapidly growing piece of the food pie, with annual sales now topping more than $40 billion. “Clearly there is a hunger by many in America for food that is safer and more nutrient-dense,” Fantle noted. “But consumers are being cheated and ethical farmers are being robbed of income while the USDA fails to vigorously defend, as charged by Congress, organic integrity.”
The NOP overseas approximately 150 independent agencies worldwide that do inspections. “Its accreditation program is fundamental in ameliorating the inherent conflict of interest in businesses hiring their own certifiers,” stated Anne Ross, an attorney with Cornucopia with a background in food and agricultural law.
Cornucopia has updated an outstanding complaint with the USDA’s Inspector General about corruption at the NOP. The agency has ignored well-documented concerns of improprieties in imports since The Cornucopia Institute published their report on growing Chinese “organic” soybean sales into the U.S. in 2009.