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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

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    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    15 out of 30 federally accredited organic certifiers audited put on "probation"

    [...]
    the USDA just announced Monday it was putting 15 out of 30 federally accredited organic certifiers they audited on probation, allowing them 12 months to make corrections or lose their accreditation. At the heart of the audit for several certifiers were imported foods and ingredients from other countries, including China.

    Chinese imports have had a bad year in the news, making headlines for contaminated pet food, toxic toys, and recently, certified organic ginger contaminated with levels of a pesticide called aldicarb that can cause nausea, headaches and blurred vision even at low levels. The ginger, sold under the 365 label at Whole Foods Market, contained a level of aldicarb not even permissible for conventional ginger, let alone organics. Whole Foods immediately pulled the product from its shelves.

    [...]

    Farms that produce USDA-certified organic food are not personally inspected by anyone from the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). As a small and underfunded agency within the USDA (it has fewer than a dozen employees), NOP relies on what it calls Accredited Certifying Agencies -- ACAs -- to do the legwork. The ACAs take responsibility for ensuring that any farm or processor bearing the organic label meets the strict requirements for certification.

    Since the Chinese government does not allow foreigners to inspect Chinese farms, an extra step is involved for oversight of organics from China: Chinese companies, which are allowed to inspect Chinese farms, subcontract with foreign ACAs. Cummins believes "the safest course of action is ... to say we won't certify imports from China because their law won't allow inspections."

    [...]

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