Reply to: crucefix@ioas.org

 

Mr Hugo Jansen,

Laagstraat 30,

4641 SP Ossendrecht

Netherlands

 

May 31, 2006

 

Dear Mr Jansen,

 

Subject: Complaint against Organic Agriculture Certification Thailand (ACT)

 

Further to my letter to you of March 31, 2006 and after some investigation I want to update you on

the following points:

 

1. Who is NN certified by?

Before January 2006 (the time of your visit), NN was solely certified by Soil Association

Certification Ltd of the UK initially based on inspections performed by SACert themselves and

then later contracted inspections by ACT of Thailand. From January 2006, NN has been certified

by ACT. This explains your concern about the absence of NN on ACT operator lists. If you should

ask ACT now for an operator list, NN should appear. This issue is therefore dropped from the

investigation and I suggest that you may like to correct this error/misunderstanding on your web

site.

However, the fact that ACT are now certifying NN brings the issue directly under our scope of

investigation.

Lastly on this issue, in your letter of March 14th and on your web site you question the

transparency of the sub-contracted inspection system between SACert and ACT. On that same web

site you also point out the problems with maps, language, culture etc. The latter in effect answers

the former doubt and is why the IFOAM Norms and organic legislation world-wide permit such

arrangements i.e. to use local knowledge, expertise, cultural understanding, language ability and

proximity to provide a rigorous inspection system. As you yourself found in Thailand, a foreigner

trying to find out what is really happening makes no sense.

 

Reaction from H.Jansen: “What I found out in Thailand is that one only needs adresses and unannounced

visits do detect fraud. Remember the Dutch certifier: 2900 announced visits: no fraud detected. The 8 cases

of fraud were detected after unannounced visits (4 x) and after information from neighbours (4x).  

 

2. Use of treated seeds

If indeed treated seed was used (and I have no further evidence as yet for or against this allegation)

I would like to point out that this may have been legitimate use under IFOAM Norm 4.1.2 which

states that

‘Where untreated conventional seeds and plant materials are not available, chemically treated

seed and plant material may be used. The certification body shall establish time limits and

conditions for exemptions that permit use of any chemically treated seeds and plant materials’

Similarly under ACT standards clause 2.2.2:

‘In case seed and plant propagation cannot be from organic agriculture, using of conventional

seed is allowed but chemical treatment is prohibited. Exception can be made when organic

farming is in the early stage of development or there is unexpected accident; therefore, chemical

traded seed and plant propagation may be used. But by the year 2010, producers shall develop

seed production and plant propagation within the farm or exchange them with other organic

producers.

This aspect of the investigation however continues alongside your concern (though without

evidence) over the ability to produce sweet corn in Thailand organically and the implied use of

conventional inputs.

Reaction of H. Jansen: “If I read the IFOAM and ACT rules well, then if NN used treated seeds, it

could only be legal if ACT was informed about this. My complaint was filed 7 months ago, but neither

 IOAS nor SA  has told me that NN had been allowed by ACT to use chemically treated seeds.

 

And there is more. NN has a big customer in England. This customer writes on his website about NN

the following lines: The Sweetcorn and Baby Corn crops are products of an in-house

breeding programme. Thus the farms are official organic seed producing sites

and the product on sale at SSL is grown from fully organic seed.. This will be most

important when the derogation for the use of non-organic seed is rescinded.

 

A multi-million dollar company that breeds its own organic corn-seeds and uses this fact as an

extra quality to its European customers is not plausible if it uses chemically treated seeds, without telling

or asking its own certifier. 

 

 

3. Manner of investigation

In your letter of March 14th you also suggest that you would like to see this case investigated

without notification of ACT. As I pointed out in my last letter, you yourself have done more than

anyone to ensure that any ‘cover up’, should one have been necessary, will have taken place. By

suggesting such a course, you are implying that ACT is complicit with the ‘fraud’ of using treated

seeds but without providing any evidence or even suspicion. We therefore are asking ACT to

conduct their own investigation into this case (which is our normal course of action) and to provide

a report to the IOAS. This we will do whether you wish to proceed in this manner or not.

 

Reaction of H. Jansen: “I have offered a free flight to Thailand to at least 2 people from authoritive

organisations, only asking them to visit the field where I found the fraud. They could or would not do it.

The ACT , IOAS and SA people I do not thrust enough. I wish I could. (In a normal world they would be

the first to go to. See: Spain; Portugal..

By the way: ACT must have written this report by now. Can we receive a copy of it ?

 

 

4. Role of Vitoon Panyakul

You have not responded to me as to whether you wish to follow this up. To the ‘cynical’, as you

put it, the multiple role of Mr Panyakul may seem dubious. However as Board member of ACT he

will have no role in decision making in Thailand (this role is performed by a separate Certification

Committee) and at the the level of the IOAS, he has no role in decision-making with regard to

ACT. Recognising that the organic movement is at times small, both the IFOAM Norms and IOAS

procedures are absolutely rigorous in this regard and more so than more general requirements (e.g.

ISO65) set by industry in general. This issue is now considered closed.

 

Reaction of H.Jansen: “OK mister Crucefix. You call me cynical and I call you naïve. Imagine that

one Thai controller finds fraud at Greennet, mr Panyakul’s Thai company. Will this controller have the guts to

harm Panyakul’s company ? He knows that Panyakul is by far the most powerful man in ACT , because he

has two(!) functions in IOAS, the organisation that decides about ACT’s future. And there is more: Panyakul

even works for the then President of  IFOAM ( Rundgren).

Dr. Crucefix, your thinking is very theoretical and far away from reality. That is why a plain guy like me can

find fraud so easily: because your organisation is inadequate.

 

 

In summary I am continuing to investigate the specific allegations on use of treated seed and the

implied use of conventional inputs.

 

I will contact you when I have further information.

 

Yours sincerely,

David Crucefix PhD

Assistant Executive Director