We are a group of farmers who think that many certification-bodies leave the door open to organic fraud. They rely on ‘confidence’ more than on controle. Confidence may have been good enough for those farms who started the organic movement, but now it proves to be insufficient.
As some new countries are beginning to produce in massive amounts ( Brasil, China, India, Thailand, Eastern Europe) it is essential that controls will become effective, so that honest and well controlled farmers are not driven to bankrupty by cheating farmers, and customers receive the quality that they pay for.
It may now happen that huge agricultural enterprises are controlled by certifying bodies which they have created themselves (this is hard to prove, but we know it happened in Portugal. See: Portugal) . These local certifiers are in turn only controlled once in every two years by IFOAM’s accreditation body IOAS. These IOAS people (almost) never visit a field. As long as the products have no chemical residue, they can succesfully be sold as organic.
We want this: :
- All production units (farms, packing stations) should be known to the public ( internet) : the full adress, surface area and usual crops.
- Every production unit should be controlled unanounced at least once a year by an inspector.
Three examples of fraud, found by one farmer who happened to visit these farms:
A large Thai company (2 million $ organic turnover in 2003) has three farms itself and many farmers in 3 provinces. It is impossible to receive the adresses of all these production farms. After good investigation we found one location (300 acres) and got proof of fraud going on.
SPAIN: La Tenienta
Around 1990 we visited this farm and found fraud. We made a report, but nothing happened. Until one year later a documentary on german television ( Die Bio Luege = The organic lie ) did have effect, and not only on the perpetrators, but also on the honest farmers. Further documents may be given later.
In 1992 we visited the farm of Maria Amelia in Portugal, and found fraud. We made a report and learned that the honest control organisation Agrobio was unable to stop the Senda organisation, who had created its own control organisation.