National Organic Program takes no action on shipment of grain considered high-risk to organic fraud, then revokes accreditation of shipment’s organic certifier
Published: May 27, 2019
Category: Fighting Organic Fraud, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
In early May, the Organic Farmers Association (OFA) received a tip that a ship loaded in Turkey was destined for a North Carolina port with a high-risk shipment of bulk organic grain. OFA notified that the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) had been alerted to this ship through a formal filed complaint. The Organic & Non-GMO Report was also notified about this high-risk shipment.
OFA asked a contact in North Carolina to request that the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDACS) call their local Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office to alert them of this high-risk ship and that its organic status should be verified before the bulk cargo was unloaded and then distributed in the United States. On Monday, May 6, we were told NCDACS and CBP communicated effectively and CBP communicated with USDA NOP.
On Tuesday, May 7, we were told NOP told CBP the shipment was not fraudulent and did not ask CBP to inspect the ship—CBP couldn’t inspect for organic integrity without a request from USDA.
Yet just two days later on May 9, the USDA NOP announced that they had revoked the accreditation of the organic certifier, Control Union, that had certified the “organic” grain on the ship.
In a statement, OFA said: “Clearly the grain onboard the ship was high-risk for organic fraud, and NOP knew that, yet NOP did not use their relationship and authority with Customs and Border Protection to act to protect U.S. organic farmers and consumers.”
OFA called this lack of response by the NOP unacceptable and is asking organic supporters to call or email their congressional representatives and senators to demand better protection for U.S. organic farmers and consumers.
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