“Any time there’s a claim of a certain pedigree, an origin that the consumer is not equipped to verify independently, the market is ripe for fraud.” – Doug Moyer, PhD, Michigan State University.
In The Largest Prosecution Of Organic Fraud In U.S. History, Iowa Grain Seller Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison, New Food Economy, 20 August 2019
“Any time there’s a claim of a certain pedigree, an origin that the consumer is not equipped to verify independently, the market is ripe for fraud,” says Doug Moyer, PhD, a professor of public health at Michigan State University, and a researcher at MSU’s Food Fraud Institute.
Case in point: Last Friday, as part of an ongoing federal investigation, the perpetrator of the largest case of organic fraud in United States history was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. Between 2010 and 2017, court documents show that farmer Randy Constant ran a massive Iowa grain brokerage, selling more than $142 million in supposedly “organic” animal feed to livestock farmers throughout the Midwest. In turn, the products those farmers sold to the public under the USDA-certified organic label—meat, dairy, and eggs—were virtually indistinguishable from their conventionally produced counterparts.
I believe that organic food is superior to conventional because it uses fewer synthetic chemicals and more renewable resources, making it better for the environment, farm workers, livestock, and us. But I don’t think we should have two food systems, a superior one that limits access to an elite few and a conventional one for everyone else. Fraud, environmental degradation, risks to farm workers, livestock, and consumers is what happens. It’s just not good. It would be better to apply, or try to apply organic principles to all food, even if it isn’t perfect. This is the way food was produced prior to 1940. There weren’t organic apples and regular apples. There were just apples.
Update: The man at the center of this massive food fraud scheme has just committed suicide:
Farmer Behind the U.S.’s Largest Organic Food Fraud Scheme Dies by Suicide, Time, 20 August 2019
A Missouri farmer blamed for running the largest organic food fraud scheme in U.S. history has died by suicide, weeks before he was to report to federal prison to begin serving a 10-year term, a coroner said Tuesday.
Prosecutors say Constant falsely marketed non-organic corn and soybeans as certified organic on a massive scale. His sales equaled up to 7 percent of organic corn grown in the U.S. in 2016 and 8 percent of the organic soybeans. Overall, from 2010 to 2017, he sold more than 11.5 million bushels of grain, or enough to fill approximately 3,600 rail cars, prosecutors said.