Organic Integrity: Managing the seemingly impossible

Growing the Organic Market

Friday, February 3


While the current organic certification system has proven to function well over the last several decades, the current growth and demand of organic products is beginning to stress the system. Buyers and consumers are demanding that the highest levels of confidence in the certification system be maintained. Despite the many measures in place to maintain this confidence and full integrity in the organic supply chain, the marketplace still experiences significant fraud. The problems are often: non-organic items sold as organic, manipulated certificates, and contamination issues related to production and processing.

Within the US alone, the USDA has enacted several investigations on fraudulent behavior that has resulted in millions of dollars in fines and even jail time for participants of this behavior. Globally there havebeen some even more serious events demonstrating fraudulent behavior that have forced government officials to develop systems to protect the market. This fraudulent activity significantly threatens the investments that the organic community has made up to this point, and therefore has created movement from various authorities and private initiatives to address the issue to grow the sector.

This session will give an overview and insight into various approaches that have been implemented to protect organic integrity around the globe. Through examples, stories, and reports on contamination, and systems implemented to increase integrity, we will discuss what the US can do to further ensure that confidence in the organic certification system remains strong and unbreakable. 

Speakers: Brenda Book, Program Manager, Washington State Dept. of Agriculture; Connie Karr, Certification Director, Oregon Tilth; Frank Gerriets; Gerald Herrmann, Director, Organic Services; Nate Lewis, Senior Crops and Livestock Specialist, Organic Trade Association; Robert Yang, Acting Assistant Director, USDA National Organic Program; Scott Rice, Accreditation and Quality Manager, Washington State Dept. of Agriculture /National Organic Standards Board Member