WASHINGTON — Various members of the organic industry have set up a pilot project designed to prevent and detect fraud in the global organic system, the Washington-based Organic Trade Association said May 24.
“Organic now operates in a global market,” said Laura Batcha, chief executive officer and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “Fraud is one of the biggest threats to that market, and it cannot be tolerated in the organic system.”
The Organic Trade Association’s Global Organic Supply Chain Integrity Task Force set up the pilot project, which will run from June to September. The task force developed a “best practices” guide to help implement systems and measures to preserve the integrity of organic, both inside and outside of the United States.
Organic fraud was in the news in May 2017 when an article in The Washington Post reported on a 36-million-lb shipment of conventional soybeans going from Ukraine to Turkey and then being sold as certified organic when the shipment reached California, boosting the shipment’s value by about $4 million. Organic imports into the United States in 2017 reached about $2.1 billion in 2017, up nearly 25% from 2016, according to the O.T.A.
“This pilot project is key to advancing the adoption of an industrywide systemic approach to preserving organic integrity from the farm to the plate and to ensuring the honesty of global control systems.” — Gwendolyn Wyard, O.T.A.
Collaborators in the pilot project include the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, the Accredited Certifiers Association, Inc. (a non-profit educational organization for the organic industry) and NSF International (an independent, accredited organization that tests, audits and certifies products and systems).
Eleven companies that are part of the task force will participate in the pilot project. They represent the entire organic supply chain and a range of products, services and commodities. The participating companies will concentrate on one product or ingredient, or a specific location to run through the pilot program. The companies will seek comments from other stakeholders in their unique supply chain and then share feedback and give recommendations.
“We’ve worked for a year to develop a fraud prevention program for organic, and now we need to have companies put our recommendations to the test in their everyday business activities to find the elements that have to be further developed,” said Gwendolyn Wyard, vice-president of regulatory and technical affairs for the O.T.A. and staff coordinator for the task force. “This pilot project is key to advancing the adoption of an industrywide systemic approach to preserving organic integrity from the farm to the plate and to ensuring the honesty of global control systems.”
The 11 participating companies are:
- Clarkson Grain Co., Inc. (handler/processor/feed grains/oilseeds)
- Egg Innovations, L.L.C. (producer/handler/eggs, livestock feed)
- Global Organics, Ltd. (handler/importer)
- Grain Millers, Inc. (handler/processor/grains)
- I Was Thinking (importer/handler/co-packer, grains, seeds, legumes, sweeteners)
- MOM’s Organic Market (retailer)
- Organically Grown Company (distributor/produce)
- Organic Valley CROPP Cooperative (producer/handler/livestock/dairy/meat)
- Pipeline Foods, L.L.C. (handler/supply chain solutions/feed grains/oilseeds)
- J.M. Smucker Co. (processor/multi-ingredient)
- True Organic Products, Inc. (manufacturer/fertilizer).