Friday, April 9, 2010

Revealed: Monitoring of Organic Food a Travesty

Revealed: Monitoring of Organic Food a Travesty
By Barry Estabrook, The Atlantic
March 26, 2010 Link to full article below
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That faint "we told you so" ringing in your ears might be coming from the folks at the Cornucopia Institute, the Wisconsin-based watchdog group that has being saying for years that the United States Department of Agriculture's enforcement of federal organic laws was, to put it kindly, pathetic. According to Cornucopia, the USDA has always clearly favored industrial operators who bent (or broke) every rule they could to compete with small, conscientious farmers who hewed to the letter and spirit of organic policy.

Guess what? Cornucopia and other organic consumer advocates were right. This week the USDA's own Office of the Inspector General came out with a formal report on the UDSA's monitoring of its organic program during the Clinton and Bush years. It couldn't have been more scathing.

The inspector cited 14 areas of major concern, including the following:

• California inspectors are simply not equipped to enforce the organic laws. Bad news for all of us. With 2,000 "organic" farms exporting to all corners of the nation, that state tills the most organic acreage in the country.

• In five cases where companies were known to be selling inorganic food illegally under the USDA Organic label, the USDA completely failed to take action against one of them. The four other cases took as long as 32 months to resolve, during which time the firms continued to sell mislabeled produce.

• Since 1990, organic laws have called for periodic residue testing. None of the regulating agencies the inspector investigated had done any residue testing. The reason? Too expensive.

Please read the full article:

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