17 Feb 2006. Biofach 3

Ken Commins spills the beans
Most interesting event today: I spoke to the Executive director of IOAS Ken Commins today and quoted his assistant executive director David Crucefix, who said: ” If we would introduce the new rule that all controlls will be unannounced, then we would loose half of our members. ” Mr. Commins agreed. I asked him: Why would they leave ? He took some time and then answered:
‘ Then controls would be too expensive.”
Did they have a blackout, both of them ?
To my opinion they gave away that in their hearts they know that their clients cannot afford to be controlled really effectively. Both times when I asked I was in a peaceful mood. And they too. (Their defenses were down, as it were.)
I went on explaining that unannounced controls can be much cheaper: A controller can go from one farm to the next one, and he can enter whenever he is ready for it. In such a way one can work much more efficiently.

I explained him the little statistic from Skal, the Dutch certifier: 2900 control visits last year.8 frauds detected: 4 from unannounced controls and 4 from neighbours that informed Skal. Conclusion: the announced visits had no result with respect to finding frauds.

Mr. Commins is a clever guy who succeeded in creating a friendly atmosphere, but he could not at all make me see that controlls were adequate, and he had a revealing argument for telling why his clients would leave him. Revealing, because it was so weak, that now we know there is another reason: his clients will see no use in staying in IOAS, as they will not survive these controlls.

Chinese certificates are worthless
Another higlight of the day was when I attended a presentation: ” Eco-market development in China”. We heard a number of professors and certifiers who said that they were doing a good job.
Then the audience was invited to ask questions. The third question was from Mr. Jurgen Freudenberger. He said: ” I have lived and worked for 10 years in China. I work as a senior consultant for Yili, the biggest dairy manufacturer in China. Every Chinese person knows us. We have seen companies who sometimes had 20 certificates on the wall. I must say that that it was our experience that they in most cases stood for nothing. I want to tell the people here that China must understand that they have to do real controls and otherwise they will be disappointed. ”
( This is the same story as I have heard 2 years ago from a man at Biofach, working for American Eagle. He said: They all are Certified for everything, but if you come at their plants, you will see a group of women sorting beans or something, by hand. They go to the toilets, if you can call it that, do not wash their hands and then go on sorting beans. You can buy these certificates everywhere. )

Nurnberg Messe concerned about fraud in China
I felt the time was right for my story, so I stood up and told it. I am not sure if they understood what I had to say, but after the meeting some people came up to me to tell me that it was OK what I had said. One of these was working for Nurnberg Global Fairs. He gave his card, but I will not reveal the name. He said: we think about a fair on organics in China, but we are very concerned about the fraud that we hear about.
I made it clear that my story was not a critique on China, as I never was there, but a warning to everybody: if this bad controlling goes on, then there will be so much fraud that it will be the end of organics. Then we all loose. Later I learned that The president of IFOAM has his own Consultancy in Munich. And it is his Consultancy that works together with the Chinese to organise the Sjanghai Biofach next year.
Conclusion: The people from Nurnberg Global Fairs feel embarassed because of the frauf they fear. Do not like to associated with it. But the president of IFOAM does notfeel this embarrasment!