Balancing Quotables and Talking Points

The Cornucopia Institute, a prominent organic industry corporate/governmental watchdog, responds to the Organic Trade Association’s current approach to addressing documented, wholesale fraud in the importation of organic commodities. In contrast, Cornucopia has petitioned the USDA to engage in immediate, emergency rulemaking emulating the decisive action the European Union has taken to address organized crime’s involvement in organic exports.

Read the OTA’s full press release outlining their plan, “Organic Trade Association kicks off pilot project to deter organic fraud.”

For one of the latest gyrations in the many documented cases of fraud, or suspicions of organic fraud, please see The Cornucopia’s Institute’s recent release on an intercepted shipment from the former Soviet Bloc:

Quotes attributed to:
Mark A. Kastel, Codirector, The Cornucopia Institute
608-625-2042, [email protected]

Mark Kastel
Cornucopia Codirector

Not to worry!

This is from the organic industry’s big lobby group that was silent for over a decade after The Cornucopia Institute first brought to the attention of the organic community improprieties involving the importation of Chinese “organic” soybeans. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) didn’t have anything to say, other than praising the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), until the organic sh*t hit the fan following the publication and documentation of massive fraud from Eastern Europe by The Washington Post in 2017.

And why wouldn’t they have anything to say? OTA members were profiting from the exponential increase in cheap certified organic imports from untrustworthy countries with endemic levels of commercial fraud.

OTA lobbyists had nothing to say after Europe prohibited certain imports and specific certifiers that were implicated — those certifiers and countries continue to have a green light into U.S. ports.

The foxes are now very serious about guarding the hen house.

Quotes attributed to:
Anne Ross, JD, LL.M., Farm Policy Analyst, The Cornucopia Institute
843-209-1732, [email protected]
Ms. Ross is Cornucopia’s lead researcher on import fraud in the organic industry.

Anne Ross
Cornucopia Farm Policy Analyst

This comes awfully late.

The guide the OTA created and references in the news release is comprehensive. It outlines ways businesses can implement internal policies based on risk to identify fraud in their supply chains.

But it’s utility is worthless if certified entities aren’t incentivized by regulatory requirements and the risk of meaningful penalties to actually implement these policies. Unfortunately, for some multinational/multimillion-dollar companies, the incentive is profit, not integrity.

Without regulatory changes that require all entities in the supply chain be certified, backed by strict USDA/NOP enforcement, there is no guide (no matter how thorough) or task force (no matter how dedicated) that will deter and stop fraud.

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