Christine Bushway, Organic Trade Association As many readers of The Packer may well know, Mischa Popoff’s credibility regarding organic agriculture has been questioned for some time.
It is evident he is still attempting to plant doubt in the public perception of organic products. I would like to address the blatant inaccuracies Popoff expressed in his Sept. 19 opinion column.
Organic buyers are the segment of the population most likely to link fresh fruits and vegetables, organic or not, to a healthy lifestyle. The organic consumer is also the core consumer of fruits and vegetables.
The produce industry will cut to the heart of its consumer base by paying any heed to Popoff’s campaign of misinformation.
Instead, all of us committed to growing the consumption of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables should listen and learn from consumers and their choices.Here are the facts.
Organic production is the only system that uses third-party inspection and certification to verify that no toxic and persistent pesticides or synthetic fertilizers have been used.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program conducts on-site audits of 100% of accredited certifiers. It is the only federal agency regulating food that conducts 100% inspections.
Every USDA-accredited certification agency inspects each certified operation annually. The inspection is on-site and reviews every component of the operation:
- The farm inspector inspects fields, seed sources, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management, water systems (for irrigation and post-harvest handling), storage areas, inputs, record-keeping, harvest and sales information, contamination and commingling risks and prevention and equipment.
- The livestock inspector inspects feed production and purchase records, feed rations, animal living conditions, production and sales information, preventive health care management practices, health records and overall animal health condition, and contamination and commingling risks and prevention measures.
- The handler or processing inspector inspects the facility and evaluates the receiving, processing, and storage areas.
The inspector assesses procedures to prevent contamination from prohibited substances and to prevent commingling with non-organic ingredients.
Organic certifiers do, in fact, currently conduct unannounced inspections on a portion of all their clients each year. ISO 65 accredited certifiers are required to conduct unannounced inspections.Certifiers currently conduct testing for pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics and other prohibited substances when contamination is suspected or when a complaint is received.