The Organic Trade Association announced Thursday the launch of a new pilot program to prevent fraud in the organic system beginning this June. The three-month program, developed by the OTA’s Global Organic Supply Chain Integrity Task Force, will test-drive new fraud prevention strategies with an eye towards assessing specific weaknesses and vulnerabilities in organic sourcing.
Eleven companies including Organic Valley, J.M. Smucker Company, and Clarkson Grain Company have voluntarily opted to be part of the program. These companies will each focus on one product, ingredient, or sourcing location for the duration of the pilot.
“We’ve worked for a year to develop a fraud prevention program for organic, and now we need to have companies put our recommendations to the test in their everyday business activities to find the elements that have to be further developed,” said Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President of Regulatory & Technical Affairs for the Organic Trade Association and staff coordinator for the GOSCI Task Force in a press release. “This pilot project is key to advancing the adoption of an industry-wide systemic approach to preserving organic integrity from the farm to the plate and to ensuring the honesty of global control systems.”
The pilot’s collaborating partners include the USDA’s National Organic Program, the Accredited Certifiers Association, and NSF International. Their role will be to review and provide feedback on the recommendations put forth by the Task Force, as well as to provide support to pilot participants.
The Organic Trade Association first announced the development of the fraud prevention program last June, one month after the Washington Post documented fraud as linked to ostensibly organic imports of corn and soybeans from Turkey. A draft of the program was presented to the NOSB at the Board’s 2018 spring meeting.
“Organic now operates in a global market,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association at its Annual Policy Conference in Washington. “Fraud is one of the biggest threats to that market, and it cannot be tolerated in the organic system.”
In 2017, organic imports into the United States totaled around $2.1 billion, nearly 25 percent more than in 2016.
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