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Archive for the 'National Organic Standards Board/National Organic Program' Category


Keeping Organic Strong: Public Comments Due

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 20018) Comment by April 4 to Protect Organic Integrity. Organic integrity is under unprecedented attack from the Trump Administration’s Department of Agriculture (USDA), Congress, and those who would like to sell food as “organic” without following the stringent rules established for organic food production and labeling. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), established to represent the organic community in advising USDA on organic practices, will be voting on important issues, and your input is critical to that process. The NOSB meets twice yearly to consider issues including materials used in organic production and oversight of the National Organic Program within USDA. Submit your comments at Regulations.gov! Enforcement is a critical component to any standard setting program. Recent reports in the Washington Post have highlighted fraudulent activities by companies selling products as organic. While this activity is certainly deviant, it taints the organic label and, if not dealt with seriously, will become a bigger problem. The NOSB will consider motions at the Spring 2018 meeting that will stop this practice. Your voice is needed to make this happen! Make your voice heard on this and other issues by submitting comments NOW on what materials and practices are allowed […]



USDA Continues Attack on Integrity of Organic Food Label, Sparks Alternative Add-On Labels

(Beyond Pesticides, March 16, 2018) In a pattern of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) actions that hurt the integrity of the organic label on food products, the agency has decided to withdraw final organic animal welfare regulations that would have provided standardized and measurable criteria for managing the health and welfare of organic livestock and poultry. USDA’s latest decision is another in a series of actions aimed at lowering the bar of organic integrity in order to serve the needs of large organic producers. In November of 2017, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), backed by the National Organic Program (NOP), rolled back decades of agreement that organic agriculture is soil-dependent, by allowing soil-less hydroponic operations to be certified organic. This has sparked stakeholders to collaborate on the development of an add-on label to certified organic food, with standards that meet the intent and letter of organic law. Despite widespread stakeholder disagreement and evidence to the contrary, USDA has concluded that the organic animal husbandry practice standards do not need to be improved  because existing regulations are “robust” and “effective,” despite widespread stakeholder disagreement. USDA justified withdrawing the regulations, by stating that they could “have a negative effect on participation […]



New Tool for Verifying Milk from Grass-Fed Pastured Cows Would Create Greater Transparency

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2018) It is no secret that large organic dairy herds of 15,000 to 20,000 cows or more dot the Western US in California, Colorado and Texas in particular. They have repeatedly come under fire from watchdog groups, journalists and farmers who have observed and documented the absence of cows on pasture during grazing season, as required by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). This circumventing of the law could soon change with the commercialization of the fluorescene spectroscopy (FS), which detects the amount of forage a dairy herd is eating by measuring the luminescence of metabolized grass in milk. The law requires that herds graze daily during a given region’s growing season, at least 120 days per year, and consume a minimum of 30% grass in their daily diet. Until now, there has been no technology to scientifically verify that organic milk comes from grass-fed dairy cows. . The organic dairy certification system relies on visual inspections by certifiers during the grazing season and an evaluation of the dairy’s herd management plan.. While most organic dairies are in compliance, there are questions about the ability of the super-large dairies to meet stringent organic pasture regulations. The […]



Take Action: Tell Congress to Support Organic Certification Cost Share

(Beyond Pesticides, December 18, 2017)  Organic certification cost share enables small and medium-sized organic farms to become certified. The costs of annual certification are increasing.  The two federal programs providing certification cost share offer a modest, partial (75 percent) reimbursement of up to $750 annually per certification, to help defray these costs. Having a diversity of scale of operations involved in organic production helps to maintain the integrity, vitality and opportunity of the U.S. organic sector. Tell Congress to reauthorize both the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program through the next Farm Bill, to provide assistance needed by small and medium-sized organic producers. Organic certification cost share helps to increase domestic production of organic products to better meet growing demand. Sales of organic products continue to grow at a rapid rate. Nationwide, U.S organic sales reached $47 billion in 2016, with nearly 24,000 family farms and other businesses represented. However, U.S. organic production is lagging behind demand for organic products.  Unless we are able to get more U.S. farmers certified as organic, the United States will continue to import a growing percentage of organic food and feed from other nations. There are […]



Take Action: Tell Your U.S. Representative to Support Organic in the Next Farm Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2017) The next Farm Bill will be up for negotiation soon. Bi-partisan legislation to address two issues that are important for organic agriculture –increasing funding for organic research and strengthening enforcement of the organic standards: The Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) will provide $50 million in funding annually for the USDA’s flagship organic research program, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).  The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act of 2017 will improve oversight of organic imports. This action will allow you to send messages to your U.S. Representative requesting that they co-sponsor the bills or thanking the member if she/he is already a co-sponsor. Ask your U.S. Representative to support organic in the next Farm Bill by co-sponsoring these two bills. If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, send a thank you. Organic is one of the fastest growing sectors in U.S. agriculture. The bi-partisan Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) introduced by U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will help more farmers transition to organic production in response to growing demand in the marketplace. Organic research helps farmers become more productive, efficient, and profitable and leads to the development of new agricultural practices that can […]



High Levels of Pesticides in Produce Linked to Pregnancy Loss

(Beyond Pesticides, November 3, 2017) Eating foods high in pesticide residue is associated with a lower probability of live births and a higher probability of pregnancy loss for women using in vitro fertilization and other techniques in attempts to become pregnant, according to new research published by Harvard University doctors in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Internal Medicine in late October. While eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables remains part of a healthy lifestyle, this new research, the first to evaluate the relationship between dietary pesticide exposure and reproductive success in women, raises serious concerns. “I was always skeptical that pesticide residues in foods would have any impact on health whatsoever,” says Jorge Chavarro, MD, co-author of the research and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health to TIME. “So when we started doing this work a couple of years ago, I thought we were not going to find anything. I was surprised to see anything as far as health outcomes are concerned.” Scientists began with a group of 325 women enrolled in an ongoing research project, called the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study at a fertility research […]



Action Needed: Last Chance to Comment on National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Fall Issues

(Beyond Pesticides, October 10, 2017) The comment period closes Wednesday, October 11 at 11:59 pm EDT for the Fall 2017 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. In addition to the other priorities in our previous alert (hydroponics, marine materials, and “inerts”), we focus attention here on eliminating the incentive to convert native ecosystems into organic crop production, strengthening and clarifying the requirements for the use of organic seed, exempt/uncertified handler and brokers, and the need for a comprehensive review of sanitizers used in organic. New to Regulations.gov? See our two-minute tutorial. Comment now! Beyond Pesticides provides you with our positions, which you can use as the basis for your comments. If you have limited time, you can use the sample comments on priority issues below. If you have more time, please use the information on our website to develop your own comments. If you paste our comments into regulations.gov, please first put a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance of these issues to you as an organic consumer, farmer, or other concerned party. Some major issues being considered at the Fall meeting are: Eliminating the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems into Organic Crop Production The proposal must […]



Fraudulent Claims Undermine Organic Integrity

(Beyond Pesticides, May 17, 2017 Fraud among producers portraying products of chemical intensive agriculture as organic –including those recently identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP)— is costly to organic producers and consumers. Imported grains –corn and soybeans that are largely fed to livestock whose products are sold as “organic”— are the focus of claims that USDA is not doing enough to protect the integrity of the organic label. The fraudulent documents that are the subject of the USDA alert are typically produced with the intent to circumvent U.S. organic regulations and are often forged along the supply chain with the goal of increasing the value of agricultural commodities imported to the United States. The arrival of soy and corn crops labeled as organic but later testing positive for residues of pesticides prohibited in organic production, has been well documented in recent years. USDA encourages certifying agents and organic operators to remain vigilant when purchasing organic products from suppliers, and warns of fines for up to $11,000 for anyone found in violation of selling products fraudulently labeled as organic. Additionally, the agency encourages anyone suspecting a violation has been committed to […]



NOSB Decides on Organic Livestock, Delays Hydroponics Decision

(Beyond Pesticides, April 26, 2017) Last week, at its spring meeting in Denver, Colorado, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted unanimously to recommend that the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule become effective immediately. This recommendation was originally made by the NOSB in 2011, and requires organic meat and poultry producers to allow animals to “exhibit natural behavior, such as the ability to sit, walk, stretch and stand without touching other animals or the sides of their pen, as well as having free and clear access to the outside.” Decisions were also made regarding a wide range of materials and practices, including synthetic additives in infant formula, mulch, sanitizers, and disinfectants. A decision on hydroponic growing methods and their eligibility for organic certification ultimately ended up being delayed again at the spring meeting, with no formal vote or action being taken. At the meeting, Beyond Pesticides maintained its position on hydroponics, aeroponics, bioponics and aquaponics methods, stating that it should not be considered eligible for organic certification. Organic production depends upon the “Law of Return,” which together with the rule “Feed the soil, not the plant,” and the promotion of biodiversity, provide the ecological basis for organic systems. These hydroponic […]



Got Organic? USDA Proposes Organic Check-Off Program, Family Farmers Question Value

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2017) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened a 60-public comment period January 17 on a controversial proposal to establish a federal research and promotion check-off program that has split the organic community, with many family farmers and small farm operators disagreeing with the larger organic industry groups, represented by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), on the benefits that they will derive from a mandatory payment requirement. The application to USDA for a check-off, originally submitted by OTA in 2015, has drawn sharp division on questions of benefits and cost to farmers. OTA believes that the check-off will generate resources to lift the organic market. This program is different from traditional check-off programs, which promote individual commodities. USDA oversees check-off programs under the Commodity, Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. According to OTA, the check-off creates an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for certified organic products, whose overarching goal is to strengthen the position of certified organic products in the marketplace. OTA says this would be achieved by funding research to benefit the organic industry, improving access to information and data across the organic sector, and educating consumers about the benefits of organic, resulting in increased demand for organic […]



Cases of Pesticide Poisoning Up in California, Including Agricultural and Residential Areas

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2016) A California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) report of all pesticide related illnesses in the state in 2014 identifies 1,685 cases “potentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure,” combining exposures from agricultural and non-agricultural use. Of the 798 cases associated with non-agricultural use, 18% of them (146 cases) involved exposure in children under 18 years old. The exposure rates are alarming, and only strengthen efforts by local activists in counties like Tulare to protect children from pesticide exposure. According to the report, Tulare County has the highest number of reported illnesses related to pesticide exposure at 78, followed by Santa Cruz County with 67. The report, Summary of Results from the California Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program 2014, provides a summary of illnesses identified by the Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program (PISP), a program under DPR. Of the 1,685 cases potentially involving health effects from pesticide exposure reported, DPR epidemiologists determined that 1,073 of those cases were “at least possibly associated” with pesticide exposure, representing a 5% decrease from 2013. However, even though the number of associated cases decreased in 2014, PISP did see a 14% rise in the number of associated episodes, defined as “an event in which a single source […]



Choose Organic this Thanksgiving!

(Beyond Pesticides, November 23, 2016)  With Thanksgiving just a day away, there is no better time to think about how we can more effectively join together as families and communities across divisions and different points of view to find a common purpose in protecting human health and the environment. Thanksgiving meals are commonly made with conventional agricultural products, which include a plethora of pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) ingredients that can affect  the health of consumers and agricultural workers alike. Read below to find out how you can combat the shortcomings of conventional agriculture with an organic Thanksgiving Day feast. Now, more than ever, it’s important to support organic and continue to demand agricultural practices that are protective of human and environmental health. According to GMO Inside, some common foods with GE ingredients purchased during Thanksgiving include: Campbell’s Tomato Soup, Wesson Canola Oil, Bruce’s Canned Yams, Hershey Milk Chocolate, Pepperidge Farm Crackers, Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing, Rice-a-Roni chicken flavored rice, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce, and Kraft’s Stove Top Stuffing. Glyphosate, produced and sold as Roundup by Monsanto, is the most commonly used chemical in the U.S., primarily as a weedkiller in chemical-intensive agriculture. Glyphosate has been  found to cause changes […]



Make Your Voice Heard to Protect Organic Integrity!

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2016) Stand up for organic! The public comment period has opened on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) proposed recommendations affecting  organic standards, materials and policy. The fall 2016 meeting dates have been announced and public comments are due by October 26, 2016. Your comments and participation are critical to the integrity of the organic label. Make your voice heard before the comment period closes. We’ve made tremendous progress in creating an organic food production system. Let’s not let USDA turn back the clock. Beyond Pesticides has  begun to analyze the numerous recommendations and are providing you  with our positions that we hope you will use as the basis for your comments. We will provide positions on additional topics in the near future. Please feel free to develop your own comments or cut and paste ours. If you cut and paste our comments into regulations.gov, please first put a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance if these issues to you as an organic consumer, farmer or other concerned party. Some of the major issues before the fall 2016 National Organic Standards Board include: Chlorine Dioxide Gas: Beyond Pesticides is appalled that the […]



U.S. Land Use Changes Add Further Strain to Commercial Beekeeping

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2016) Land suitable for commercial beekeepers in the U.S. Northern Great Plains (NGP) is declining rapidly, according to a new study released earlier this month by the U.S. Geological Service (USGS). The region, which supports over 40% of managed honey bee colonies, is quickly replacing suitable pollinator habitat with more and more pesticide-intensive biofuel crops, particularly corn and soybean, as a result of increased crop prices and federal subsidies for biofuels. The concerning trend adds another layer of stress not only to honey bee colonies, but beekeepers whose livelihood depends on the health of their commercial livestock. From early summer to mid-fall, roughly one million honey bee colonies make their way through the Northern Great Plains of North and South Dakota. The area is not usually a stop for pollination services, but a place where beekeepers go to generate a honey crop and improve the health of their colonies. Most of the colonies that summer in the NGP are trucked across the country to pollinate fruiting crops like apples, cherries, melons, and almonds during the winter, or are otherwise moved south to produce packaged bee colonies or queens. According to the USGS study, published in the […]



Court Rules Consumers and Farmers Can Sue USDA for Weakening Standard that Allows Synthetics in Organic

(Beyond Pesticides September 12, 2016) On Thursday, September 8, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit (Case No. 15-cv-01590-HSG) that challenges changes to the rules that review the potential hazards and need for allowed synthetic and prohibited natural substances used in certified  organic food production. Finding that plaintiffs had established both proper jurisdiction and a viable claim, this ruling allows the case to move forward on its merit. The court will now  be able to review the substantive importance of formal notice and public comment regarding  the rules for organic food production, which were changed dramatically by USDA in 2013. Plaintiffs in this case, recognized  by the court as “approximately a dozen advocacy and industry groups representing organic farmers, retailers, and consumers,” filed a complaint last April asking the court to require USDA to reconsider its decision on the rule change and reinstitute the agency’s customary public hearing and comment process. Specifically at issue in the lawsuit is a rule that implements the organic law’s “sunset provision,” which since its origins has been interpreted, under a common reading of the […]



It’s Time to Protect Organic Integrity

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2016)  Make your voice heard! The public comment period has opened on National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) proposed recommendations affecting  organic standards, materials and policy. Comments are due by April 14, 2016 at 11:59 PM. As usual, there are many important issues that are under  NOSB consideration. Your voice is integral to maintaining organic integrity and the value of the USDA organic label. We have begun to analyze the numerous recommendations and are providing you with our positions that we hope you will use as the basis for your comments. We will provide positions on additional topics in the near future. Please feel free to develop your own comments or cut and paste ours from the following web page: Top Priority Issues. Unfortunately, the only way to make your voice heard is to submit your comments to regulations.gov. If you cut and paste our comments into regulations.gov on major issues before the NOSB (below), please put a personal note of concern in order to reflect the importance if these issues to you as an organic consumer, farmer. Some of the major issues before the spring 2016 National Organic Standards Board include: ”¢ Inerts Three items on […]



Campbell Soup Says GE Food Is Safe, Endorses Mandatory GE Labeling to Preempt States with Weak Language

(Beyond Pesticides, January 12, 2016) Late last week in a precedent-setting move, Campbell Soup Company announced its support for federal mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. If such labeling does not come soon, the company also indicated it is prepared to voluntarily label all products it produces that  contain GE ingredients. Agri-Pulse reported, “Campbell made clear that it still supported the use of genetic engineering in agriculture but said that there is a need for national labeling standards that would preempt state standards.” Campbell’s President and CEO Denise Morrison, ““I want to stress that we’re in no way disputing the science behind GMOs or their safety. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence indicates that GMOs are safe and that foods derived from crops using genetically modified seedsare not nutritionally different from other foods,” Morrison wrote.” Ms. Morrison said that the company is against a patchwork of regulation across the states.  In its release Campbell issues a sample label, which states:  “Partially produced with genetic engineering. For more information about GMO ingredients visit WhatsinMyFood.com.” Prior to the announcement, Campbell Soup’s membership to the umbrella group the Grocery Manufacturers Association  pitted it against consumer, health, and environmental organizations, and […]



Court Rejects USDA Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit on Organic Rule Change

(Beyond Pesticides, September 14, 2015) On Thursday September 10, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in a bench ruling, rejected the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)  motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit (Case3:15-cv-01690) that challenges the National Organic Program’s (NOP) failure to follow proper legal procedures  in making a substantial rule change to the organic standard. This court ruling allows the case to move forward  on the  proper procedure and the importance of formal notice and public comment regarding  the rules for organic food production. The lawsuit, filed earlier this year by the Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), challenges the contaminated compost guidance  released by USDA, which weakens the long- standing prohibition of synthetic pesticide contaminants. Prior to the new contaminated compost guidance, organic regulations expressly prohibited fertilizers and compost from containing any synthetic substances not included on organic’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Plaintiffs allege that the USDA’s decision weakens the integrity of organic food production, not only by creating inconsistent organic production standards but also by undermining the essential public participation function of organic policy making under the Administrative Procedure […]



Groups Sue USDA for Failure to Seek Public Comment on Organic Compost Rule

(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2015)””The Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program’s (NOP) failure to follow the law in making a substantial rule change to the USDA organic standard. At issue is the contaminated compost guidance released by USDA, which weakens the long-standing prohibition of synthetic pesticide contaminants. The plaintiff organizations are jointly represented by legal counsel at the Crag Law Center and CFS. The filing follows on the heels of a lawsuit filed last week  by 15 farm, consumer and certifier organizations with a similar procedural challenge to a  rule change to the organic sunset process, which regulates synthetic chemical exceptions in organic production. Prior to the new contaminated compost guidance, organic regulations expressly prohibited fertilizers and compost from containing any synthetic substances not included on organic’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. According to Ralph Bloemers, staff attorney for the Crag Law Center, “The new guidance radically changes organic requirements, allowing organic producers to use compost materials treated with synthetic pesticides.” The USDA made this rule without the required rule-making process, usurping the public’s right to ensure […]



Groups Challenge Major USDA Change to Organic Rule

(Beyond Pesticides, April 8, 2015)  Organic stakeholders have filed a lawsuit in federal court, maintaining that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated the federal rulemaking process when it changed established procedures for reviewing the potential hazards and need for allowed synthetic and prohibited natural substances used in producing organic food. A coalition of 15 organic food producers and farmer, consumer, environmental, and certification groups asked the court to require USDA to reconsider its decision on the rule change and reinstitute the agency’s customary public hearing and comment process. Read the complaint here. When it comes to organic food production, consumers and producers expect a high level of scrutiny and are willing to pay a premium with the knowledge that a third-party certifier is evaluating compliance with organic standards. The burgeoning $35+ billion organic market relies heavily on a system of public review and input regarding decisions that affect organic production systems and the organic label.   The multi-stakeholder National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)[1], appointed to a 5-year term by the Secretary of Agriculture, holds semi-annual meetings to solicit public input and to write recommendations to the Secretary on organic policy matters, including the allowance of synthetic and non-organic agricultural […]



USDA Under Fire for Rules Permitting Agribusiness Interests like Monsanto to Intimidate Scientists

(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2015) Scientists working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) don’t have adequate protections from pressure and retaliation when researching issues that threaten the interests of powerful agrichemical corporations like Monsanto, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which filed a petition for rule-making with the agency last month. PEER’s petition seeks to strengthen USDA’s Scientific Integrity Policy, and urges the agency to adopt best practices used in other federal agencies in order to prevent political suppression or alteration of studies. USDA adopted a new integrity policy in 2013 in response to a 2009 memorandum issued by President Obama with the goal of “ensuring the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch’s involvement with scientific and technological processes.” PEER alleges that USDA’s policy falls far short of this aim, even containing language which actively encourages the agency to suppress scientific work for political purposes. USDA’s current policy reads, “scientists should refrain from making statements that could be construed as being judgments of or recommendations on USDA or any other federal government policy, either intentionally or inadvertently.” PEER explains that USDA management regularly uses this provision as reason for suppressing technical […]



Aerial Photos Show “Factory Farms” Certified Organic in Violation of Law

(Beyond Pesticides, December 22, 2014) Stunning aerial photographs of certified  organic farms taken in an investigation launched by The Cornucopia Institute reveal industrial-scale operations housing thousands of animals in cramped conditions with no access to the outdoors. Access to pasture for ruminants like dairy cows is required under National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, and all livestock certified organic must have a means of reaching the outdoors year-round. “The vast majority of these massive, industrial-scale facilities, some managing 10,000-20,000 head of cattle, and upwards of 1 million laying hens, had 100% of their animals confined in giant buildings or feedlots,” said Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, which has filed a legal complaint against 14 livestock operations it alleges are illegally marketing themselves as organic. It is important to note that not all organic farms house their animals in conditions seen in the aerial photographs. “Many of our dairy farmer-members have animals, they truly care for, that have names, not numbers,” Kastel explained. However, environmental and consumer groups have been sounding an alarm over the increased dependency many larger industry-owned farms have developed  on synthetic inputs temporarily allowed in organic production. These practices undermine the values […]



Organic Certification System Experiences Growing Pains

(Beyond Pesticides, December 12, 2014) Bursting at the seams, the $35 billion organic food industry has tripled in size over the past decade, severely outpacing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ability to monitor the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock. As a result, certifying agents, or USDA-accredited entities that inspect and certify organic farms and suppliers, have increasingly fallen out of compliance, according to a piece in the Wall Street Journal. Advocates point out that while improvements should be made  in the organic certification system, there is no equivalent inspection system in chemical-intensive agriculture, where inspections are mostly complaint-driven, infrequent, and conducted in most states by state departments of agriculture, which typically promote pesticides and have suffered declines in resources and inspectors. There are currently 81 accredited certifying agents, which include small nonprofit groups, state-run agencies, and large multinationals. However, according to an internal USDA report, of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits. These 23 firms did not manage to properly conduct onsite inspections or correctly review applications for organic certifications, among other things, the […]