Threat to Organic Industry: “Organic” Products that Aren’t

Rick Barrett reported on the front page of today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that, “One of the biggest threats to U.S. organic farming, those in the industry say, comes from products labeled ‘organic’  but aren’t the real deal.

“In September, for instance, an inspector general audit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that safeguards for consumers were lacking for products coming from overseas.

“The audit also said some imported organic produce shipments were fumigated with pesticides at the border, in violation of organic standards.”

Mr. Barrett noted that, “Not every shipment of fruits and vegetables was doused with chemicals, but if pests or disease were found, some of the products were treated with pesticides even if they were labeled organic.

A Washington Post investigation found that non-organic corn and soy — with organic labels — were flooding into the United States.”

The newspaper reported that millions of pounds of ‘organic’ corn and soybeans had been shipped to the U.S. through Turkey despite evidence that the crops were grown conventionally.”

The Journal Sentinel article indicated that, “Although products bearing the ‘USDA Organic’ seal usually come from the U.S., large amounts of organic corn, soybeans, coffee and other commodities are from other countries.

“‘Our audit found that (USDA) needs to strengthen its controls over the approval and oversight of international trade arrangements and agreements for the import of organic products,’ the inspector general’s office said.

The problems undermine consumer confidence, said Mary Ann Ihm with the Wellspring organic farm in West Bend.”

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