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OTA unveils programme to prevent organic fraud

Mar '19
Pic: Organic Trade Association
Pic: Organic Trade Association
Indicating a major step by the organic industry to fight fraud in the global organic system, the Organic Trade Association has unveiled a groundbreaking Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions programme. Organic businesses may now voluntarily pre-enroll in the programme to help minimise or eliminate organic fraud both inside and outside of the United States.

The new programme is based on the Organic Trade Association’s tested and completed Organic Fraud Prevention Guide that provides businesses engaged in organic trade with a risk-based process for developing and implementing organic fraud mitigation measures.

“Fraud in the global organic supply chain poses a significant threat to the integrity of the organic brand,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “For the past two years, the Organic Trade Association has prioritised significant time and resources into organic fraud prevention solutions. We are fighting fraud on many fronts, including through the 2018 Farm Bill and through private sector initiatives. The more companies that join this industry-driven programme, the stronger the organic supply chain will be.”

The global organic market has been on a steady rise for more than two decades. It is now an almost $90 billion market, with the American organic market alone accounting for close to $50 billion. Organic imports into the United States in 2017 totaled around $2.1 billion, up nearly 25 per cent from the previous year. In recent years, however, investigations have revealed imported products fraudulently labeled as organic, and gaps in the complex organic supply chain.

Already, several organic companies have pre-enrolled in the programme. These companies participated in a three-month pilot project last year that tested the programme at their operations. The businesses represent the entire organic supply chain, from farm to processor and a diverse range of products, services and commodities including fresh produce, grain, dairy, eggs, meat, beverages, packaged and prepared foods, fibre and textiles, importers and consulting services.

Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions establishes a framework and formal process for businesses to create continuously improving internal programmes for achieving organic integrity throughout their associated supply chains. The programme requires training, an organic fraud vulnerability assessment and the development of an organic fraud prevention plan. It is a quality assurance programme designed to complement and reinforce USDA’s organic standards and the work of the accredited certifying agencies.

“Everyone plays a role in preventing organic fraud,” said Gwendolyn Wyard, vice president of Regulatory and Technical Affairs for the Organic Trade Association and staff coordinator for the association’s Global Organic Supply Chain Integrity (GOSCI) Task Force, the 48-member task force formed two years ago to develop the fraud prevention programme. “It is critical that organic businesses have robust systems and measures in place that adequately support the promise of providing organic products that people can trust.”

To pre-enroll, a company must be an Organic Trade Association member and either certified organic or listed with a USDA recognised Material Review Organisation such as OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute). Eligible operations include farmers, handlers, processors, distributors, traders, retailers and input manufacturers.

"Our Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program will become the industry standard reference for excellence and achieving integrity across complex organic global supply chains,” said Batcha. “We all have a responsibility to fight fraud, and the Organic Trade Association is doing everything in its power to address the problem.”

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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