Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The latest Organic con

It's amazing what people can get away with. There's one egg farmer who is selling his own version of 'organic' eggs at over $9 a dozen – and people in Melbourne are falling over themselves to buy them.
He has come up with a sham organisation which accredits member farms. The organisation acknowledges the National Organic Standard 2008 (a new version of the Standard dated July 2009 should be approved this year) – but there is no process to ensure that member farms meet those standards.
Inspections are undertaken by other members of the group who have no qualifications or experience in conducting audits or inspections. It's just a back-slapping exercise to con gullible consumers into paying more for 'organic' eggs. And it looks like he is getting away with it because of slack controls over the certification process.
There are seven approved organic certification bodies in Australia (and that's part of the probem). They are: National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia Ltd; Australian Certified Organic; Bio-Dynamic Research Institute; Organic Growers of Australia; Safe Food Queensland; The Organic Food Chain Pty Ltd and Tasmanian Organic-Dynamic Producers.
They all have tight inspection criteria, meet international standards and the whole system is overseen by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).
All very tightly controlled to maintain the integrity of the organic status of the food produced.
The only trouble is that AQIS only imposes the rules for exports. It doesn't care what happens in the domestic market – so any clown can set up an organic certification system to squeeze extra dollars out of consumers without the costs of meeting real organic standards.
If it wasn't so serious it would be a joke!

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