Lack of Enforcement at Ports Contributing to “Bogus Organics” Reaching the U.S.

Peter Whoriskey reported in today’s Washington Post that, “Bogus ‘organic’ products may be reaching the United States because of lax enforcement at U.S. ports, according to a new audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, a finding that helps explain previous reports that millions of pounds of fraudulent ‘organic’ corn and soybeans had reached American ports.

The USDA lacks procedures to check that a shipment meets organic standards, the report found.

“The USDA ‘was unable to provide reasonable assurance that … required documents were reviewed at U.S. ports of entry to verify that imported agricultural products labeled as organic were from certified organic foreign farms,’ according to the report released Monday. ‘The lack of controls at U.S. ports of entry increases the risk that nonorganic products may be imported as organic into the United States and could create an unfair economic environment for U.S. organic producers.'”

The Post article stated that, “The inspector general’s report adds that the confusion at the ports is so deep that some ‘organic’ shipments — legitimate or not — are fumigated after arrival with pesticides prohibited under USDA organic rules.”

Mr. Whoriskey also noted that, “The report from the inspector general comes as the USDA faces growing doubts about whether food granted the ‘USDA Organic’ label actually meets organic standards. This year, news stories have raised questions about the production methods used in organic milk, organic eggs, as well as imported organic products of all kinds.

“In May, The Washington Post reported that millions of pounds of ‘organic’ corn and soybeans had been shipped to the United States through Turkey despite evidence that they had been grown conventionally. Subsequently, the USDA revoked the ‘organic’ designation from two of the companies involved in importing.”

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