Cornucopia has been investigating fraudulent organic imports and working to call out these illegalities for over a decade. 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.
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 US.
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 US by Sunrise Foods International, Inc. aboard the M/V Mountpark. US 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 US 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 Eastern European countries does not support the tonnage imported into the US. 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 US 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 608-637-8278.
- The Truth Matters: Cornucopia’s Quest to Expose Organic Grain Fraud, published in the Winter 2020 Cultivator
Potential, Failures, and Pitfalls of the National Organic Program in Getting Control of Organic Grain Fraud, a paper by Cornucopia’s Anne Ross, JD and John Bobbe (Sep 2019)
- Cornucopia’s story on the re-certification of Tiryaki and Diasub as organic
- Cornucopia’s white paper, The Turkish Infiltration of the U.S. Organic Grain Market
- Cornucopia’s news release (summary) on the above white paper and a call for emergency rulemaking
- Cornucopia’s letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue calling for new regulations to stop import fraud
- Cornucopia’s news release on Turkish “organic” corn aboard the M/V Mountpark
- Cornucopia’s formal comments to the NOSB in spring 2018 on import oversight
- Cornucopia’s formal petition to the USDA for new regulations to stop import fraud
- Cornucopia’s news release on import fraud and marketplace action
- Cornucopia’s request to the Office of Inspector General to investigate the activities of the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP)
- The Washington Post story, “The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t”
- The Cultivator article, “Impostor Imports”
- OFARM’s John Bobbe’s article from the Milkweed, “Organic Grain Imports Threaten Domestic Markets and Standards”
- The Star Tribune article, “Organic farmers worried about possible fraudulent grain imports”
- USDA’s Global Agriculture Information Network January 26, 2016 “GAIN Report # TR601, Turkish Organic Market Overview”
- OFARM’s request to NOP’s Miles McEvoy to take immediate action on fraudulent imports
- OFARM’s Talking Points on organic imports
- The Washington Post story, “Bogus ‘organic’ foods reach the U.S. because of lax enforcement at ports, inspectors say”