The Organic Scam
How Fraud is Affecting Consumer Trust
As a consumer, we vote with our dollars, and it can be said that we cast a vote with every single meal. To the point, when we choose pasture-raised meat we vote for humane practices, fair-trade chocolate is a vote for better business practices and organic food is a choice for a less toxic world.
The term “Organic” is used when you’ve fulfilled the USDA Organic requirements for any
specific food group. As such, the USDA standards for Organic plant foods are different from
meat, eggs, and milk -- or in the case of seafood, the USDA still hasn’t decided how to define its Organic practices [See Image 1].
The true meaning of “Organic” can get a little confusing, but most people assume that if their
food is adorned with the certified “Organic”, they’re making a decision against the destructive
use of pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), and animal growth hormones -- and hopefully, consuming something that’s much healthier.
IMAGE 1: created by Jorge Bach, CSPI
This Organic market has been growing over the years as consumers have increasingly become more concerned over farming practices and the consumption of harmful synthetic chemicals. As the Organic label can carry a higher price tag, corporations are also trying to get a slice of this largely valued 50 billion dollar market!
 But, this has opened the flood gate of imitaters and
short cutters, corporations going as far as to outright lie to consumers and the USDA -- and, they’re getting away with it!
How “Organic” is Abused
In August 2019 it was found that Missouri farmers had pedaled off 3,600 rail cars of GMO corn, wheat, and soy as “Organic” between 2010 to 2017. A masterminded $142 million organic food scam which ended in a 10 years jail sentence to Randy Constant (he later committed suicide after hearing his sentence)
 who’d planned the whole operation. But, this was not just a fraud paid in dollars, but a greater fraud to the trust of the American consumer.
“In doing so, he and his cohorts victimized thousands of people who were deceived into paying more for a product that they ultimately did not get. They also diluted the organic grain market to the financial disadvantage of organic farmers who were following the law.’ said Peter Deegan, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.
Because soy, wheat, and corn are also used in animal feed as well as a plethora of other products, what unfortunately resulted was a large amount of the US beef, poultry, and eggs was being falsely advertised as Organic. Yet, hardly anyone was told of this terrible deception -- possibly, because it’d show how flimsy the current Organic regulations are.
It’s as Easy as Switching Labels!
This also isn’t the only time that this “Organic” fraud has occurred. The Washington Post
reported on a shipment of 36 million pounds of GMO soybeans sailing from Ukraine to Turkey to California. An anomaly occurred when it finally arrived at its destination in the US, the GMO soy “magically” became Organic. The Washington Post said:
“But by the time the 600-foot cargo ship carrying them [the soy] to Stockton, Calif., arrived in
December, the soybeans had been labeled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records. That switch — the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation — boosted their value by approximately $4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain.”
You’d think that pulling off a multimillion-dollar scam would be more complex than slapping anOrganic sticker on your crates with a “pinkie-promise” that you’re telling the truth -- but it’s not. Even a major distributor of poultry, based in Toronto (Cericola) -- selling to large stores like Costo-- has been accused of doing just that, by their own employees! A previous manager recalled that they’d routinely ship out mixed batches of conventional and Organic poultry as one unified Organic shipment. 
Organic Fraud is Inescapable
IMAGE 3: https://ota.com/sites/default/files/indexed_files/ExecSummary-OTA-GOSCI-Guide-0304.pdf
“Organic now operates in a global market. Fraud is one of the biggest threats to that market,
and it cannot be tolerated in the organic system.” -- Laura Batcha, CEO/Executive Director, Organic Trade Association
Although buying Organic is a great step forward for consumers wanting to make a change,
people should still be wary of large corporations trying to join the market. The reason being thateach can, jar or package isn’t checked for its legitimacy. Instead, biannually or even just once a year, third party’s inspect the farms or factories -- which have been criticized for their lack of detail -- and even then, they can still hire another more “cooperative” inspector. Unfortunately, it gets even worse with international foods, since quality assurance is very hands-off and bribes win over honesty -- such as the case of soy coming from Ukraine.
More to the point, Organic label doesn’t necessarily mean zero pesticides or herbicides. You
should consider questions such as: what water is used to irrigate the crops, what blows over
from adjacent farms and what other neighboring GMO crops are polluting that organic field.
Also, USDA organic labeling requires 95% of the ingredients to be organic, which if you know
anything about chemicals, 5% is more than enough room for a harmful amount of chemical
flavorings and preservatives. “Made with organic” on the other hand, only has to be 70%
organic, meaning the rest could be highly processed, GMO and pesticide-laden chemicals. So, double-check your labels!
Don’t let these facts make you feel helpless, but empowered! The more you know about your
food the more aware you’ll be of “Organic” scams and shady business practices. The rule of
finding clean and trustworthy food is to find a trustworthy business. Your simple solution is to
shop Local or even just research the businesses that you’re already buying from!
The truth is, greedy businesses will always find ways to sidestep TRUE betterment of their
farming practices and their products. Whereas, farms and businesses with integrity will always aim for chemical-free products, happier livestock, and honest discourse with their customers. When you begin buying your food with this in mind, you’ll learn not to just trust an Organic label, but the people behind the labels.
Written By: Bryce Hallam
For: DA-LE RANCH