USA: again a problem of fraud?

by Editor (comments: 2)

Cornucopia and Star Tribune have drawn attention to organic grain imports, the impact on certified American organic farmers and the possibility of organic fraud.

Organic fraud raises its head once again

In the US state of  Minnesota farmers and marketers are worried that some imports of corn and soybeans have been labelled organic when they are in fact conventional products. The question is: Do imports comply with the strict regulations that certified organic farmers in the US have to adhere to? Are there checks in place similar to those that apply to US farmers?

Recently, at the biggest organic conference in the USA, the issue of supply and demand was discussed: domestic organic production is far too low to meet consumer demand and the country is dependent on imports. Nearly three-quarters  of organic corn and almost half of soybeans imported by the USA come from Turkey. Shipments of organic corn to the US more than tripled from 2015 to 2016 and Turkey's exports of soybeans to the US rose by nearly 800%. The huge increase in imports in response to rising demand for corn and soybeans has resulted in American farmers seeing a collapse in prices for organic corn (40% over two years).

The suspicion falls on Turkey

The sudden flood of organic corn and soybeans has made organic farmers and organisations suspicious, especially as one of Turkey's biggest certification organisations has had its accreditation suspended and the EU and Canada no longer accept its shipments. Experts have pointed to the obvious potential for fraud with a lack of inspection of supply chains, incomplete record keeping and certification. If producers and traders in Turkey and countries that ship through Turkey, like Ukraine and Romania, are not obliged to meet the same standards as those associated with the USDA organic seal, the door is open for fraud.

There was proof of fraud in 2016 when a Europol report stated that some Turkish companies relabelled or repackaged products destined for the EU as organic. Moreover, from 2012 there have been further reports of unapproved production methods for organic products shipped from Turkey. USDA maintains that proper control measures are in place when organic grain is imported but there have still been complaints by the organic industry in the US. Above all, the industry is worried about the effect of a fraud scandal on consumer confidence in the organic label.

USDA is continuing to monitor this potentially catastrophic situation.


North America

Go back

Please comment the article

Comment by Prabhat |

If any fraud is done, it's under the knowledge of importers. Transaction certificate for export from India is mandatory requirement. Most of the buyers from USA know it but did not ask for the same.

Comment by Bruno Fischer |

I agree with Prahat. Import regulations into EU are far more strict. With the second large import market US having no mandatory Transaction Certificate requirement opens a huge loophole.
USDA should also require TC as EU imports require.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Order here
You will then receive twice a week a short overview of articles recently published by Organic-Market.Info.

worldwide / Europe

Here you can read the
current issue of 'BioHandel'