Impostor Imports: Abuses in the Organic Marketplace

Cornucopia has been investigating fraudulent organic imports and working to call out these illegalities for over a decade. Be a CIA agent: Please contact us with any information about questionable shipments of imported organic grains and produce.  We will hold anything you share with us in strict confidence.

Source: United Soybean Board

Abuses were spotlighted by a 2017 Washington Post story that documented three cases of fraudulent organic certificates and dubious organic certification oversight originating overseas.  All three of these shipments were from Turkey, now one of the largest exporters of organic products to the U.S.

In April 2018, Cornucopia informed industry stakeholders and the public about a massive shipment of “organic” corn grown in Russia, Moldova, and Kazakhstan, imported to the U.S. by Sunrise Foods International, Inc. aboard the M/V Mountpark. U.S. Customs and USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service rejected the shipment based on prohibitions of importing corn from those specific countries— which brought to light questions about the authenticity of the “organic” corn. Massive shipments like these, of questionable organic status, are squeezing U.S. farmers out of our markets.

Cornucopia’s white paper, The Turkish Infiltration of the U.S. Organic Grain Market: How Failed Enforcement and Ineffective Regulations Made the U.S. Ripe for Fraud and Organized Crime, outlines the pathways for organic import fraud via Turkey. The reported organic acreage from Turkey and many former Eastern Bloc countries does not support the tonnage imported into the U.S. In other words, available data shows we are importing more than they can possibly be growing.

Approximately 80% of bulk shipments of organic whole corn and cracked corn imported into the U.S. between January 1 and May 15, 2018 were shipped through Turkey or the United Arab Emirates.  The National Organic Program’s failure to coordinate with other federal agencies to flag vessels carrying grains from these countries represents an endemic problem in enforcement.

You can help rein in these abuses.  Information about breaks in supply chains or recordkeeping, inauthentic organic certification documents, and fraudulent or altered transport documents can identify bad actors and protect domestic organic farmers. We will treat your identity confidentially.
Email [email protected] or call 608-625-2000.

Additional Resources: