US: New Rules Target Fraud in Organic Food Sales

Photo: abc

The Facts

  • On Thursday, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new regulations that will allow for better oversight and enforcement over foods labeled and sold as organic.

  • The Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) rule, which takes effect in March, mandates the USDA’s National Organic Program certification for all organic imports to plug loopholes that allowed non-organic products to infiltrate the supply chain.

The Spin

Pro-establishment narrative

The new regulation is a significant step toward protecting legitimate organic producers and consumers who pay a premium to buy organic products. It potentially enforces a system that will prevent non-organic products from slipping through the cracks and create a level playing field for organic farmers. It will also increase people's confidence when buying organic goods as well as improve the market and the farmer's bottom lines.

Establishment-critical narrative

While a step in the right direction, this new regulation doesn't go far enough as there are grave flaws within the USDA itself. Its conflicting and compromised system is what allows ill-intended producers to flood the market with fraudulent products. Moreover, its failure to close holes in its certifications, investigations, and penalties undermines authentic producers and tarnishes the agency’s organic seal.

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