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India: organic fraud

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An article in the Telegraph, Calcutta, draws attention to the issue of organic fraud in the domestic market in India. It points out that 25 complaints were received from the EU and the US between 2012 and 2014 relating to pesticides detected in export consignments or to the labelling of products. Collusion in fraud or inefficiency?

A parliamentary panel has accused government enforcement agencies of deliberately ignoring the problem. When the issue was referred to the agriculture ministry, the response was that the necessary laws on marketing farm produce and regulations to prevent fraudulent organics coming onto the market were already in place.

The panel concluded that there was either collusion between the producers of fake organic products and the enforcement agencies or the agencies were not efficient enough to detect fraud. This is not the first time the enforcement agencies have failed in their duty: two years ago, India's food safety regulatory agency allowed food making false organic claims to be marketed. The Food Safety and Standards Authority was accused of failing to regulate the mislabelling of organic products. Despite the requirements of India's national organic standards, in 2015 the results of a survey by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, revealed that pesticides were found in samples of organic produce.

In response to the panel's concerns, the committee on estimates has repeated its call for severe punishment of anyone involved in making, trading or exporting fake organic products and has demanded that enforcement agencies apply rigorously the prescribed standards for inspecting and detecting fake organics.



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