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on September 16, 2010

USDA to pursue organic standards violations

National Organic Program expected to rely on certifying agencies to enforce compliance

The USDA Agriculture and Marketing Service’s National Organic Program announced it will be more aggressive with respect to deviation from standards and regulations relating to organic certification.

Although the National Organic Program does not have the resources to ensure compliance, it is expected that it will rely on certifying agencies. There is an obvious conflict of interest inherent in a situation where producers remunerate certifying agencies to conduct audits and at the same time the agencies are beholden to the NOP.

If the USDA is to fulfill its function of “allowing us to perform our jobs of persuading consumers they can trust the USDA organic label” as stated by Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the NOP, the agency itself must be responsible for investigating violations and taking appropriate action.

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