27th March 2023 1:12 pm

27th March 2023 1:12 pm

Organic Cotton Fraud in India

Is it perhaps a sign of the times that we have an article on fraud in what should be a celebratory return-to-publication issue of The Organic Standard, after a brief period away from its readers? “Plus ça change” some may say – fraud has always existed in areas where there is a more valuable commodity that can be replaced with something less valuable in order to deceive, and sadly organic products are not immune.
However, the level of major fraud that organic operators have experienced in recent times is, to say the least, unusual, although over the years there have been major fraud cases such as the ‘Puss in Boots’ case prosecuted by the Italian authorities in 2011, in which over 700,000 tons of product (mainly feed materials) had been fraudulently sold as organic . This was one of the first cases to highlight that over time, supply chains for organic products have become ever more lengthy and complex, with increased opportunities for organised fraud. Now we see a situation where there are lead stories in the mainstream press of substantial fraud. The recently published US National Organic Program Final Rule on Strengthening Organic Enforcement cites in its preamble four major cases of fraud involving grains, oilseeds and pulses that occurred between 2017 and 2022 .
Organic operators themselves have always been concerned about protecting and assuring their supply chain in order to protect their final consumer from purchasing mis-labelled products and to protect their own good name. But now more than ever, they need to protect themselves against considerable financial loss, as well as their reputation for supplying genuine goods. Too many cases of a trader supplying goods labelled as organic that fail testing will result in their purchasers going elsewhere. Even within processing for retail there are indirect losses from the purchase of product that cannot be used; with a failure in the supply chain, the production process is disrupted and the retailer disappointed by late delivery.
The long-term loss may be greater for organic businesses though. If the organic ‘brand’ is no longer respected by consumers, then options such as ‘regenerative’ or ‘natural’, that do not bear the additional costs of compliance with legal standards, are more likely to be chosen.

If you would like to read the whole article please request a copy from: info@alliancefororganicintegrity.bio

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