The North American organic food industry needs to introduce mandatory, unannounced, science-based testing according to Mischa Popoff, organic inspector and author.
Popoff says the current certification system, based on fees and paperwork, has opened the door to widespread and dishonest use of the term "organic."
"I know a lot of really good, honest organic farmers in Canada and the United States. They make up 15 to 20 percent of the organic market. That's it," says Popoff. "We import 85 percent of our organic food."
Much of this food comes from countries like China, Mexico and Brazil, where North American organic inspectors are not given access to organic production. "The Chinese, Brazilians and Mexicans send their own inspectors out, and then they send the paperwork to our Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or the USDA, and then they rubber stamp it and then there it is on the store shelf for you," he says. "This is as close as you get to a complete scam."
"You cannot trust this mechanism whereby the farmer gets certified, the broker, the trader, the wholesaler, the processor, they all get certified. And you're just supposed to believe, because they've filled out paperwork and paid exorbitant fees, that they are in fact organic."
Popoff says the industry must introduce true testing to restore integrity to the system.
"Everything else has high quality, niche markets for quality. That's what the organic market should be. Instead it's just banality. You're just paying for a label, to feel good about yourself," he says.
In the meantime, Popoff says the best way to buy organic food is directly from an organic farmer.
Listen to the complete interview with Mischa Popoff on the Manitoba Farm Journal:
(Mischa Popoff - Is It Organic? - Wednesday, November 10th, 2010)
~ Friday, November 12, 2010 ~