That certified organic edamame you bought from the local supermarket may have been made and packaged in China. The exporting juggernaut is quickly and quietly muscling in on the thriving global trade in certified organic products. Organic exports from China are certified by private companies and carry the official USDA organic logo. The logo, however, does not guarantee that products are truly organic:
From the New York Sun:
“Fraudulent products can be found everywhere in China,” an Agriculture Department report on organics noted last year. “Most of the [Chinese] consumers interviewed said they didn’t buy and would not buy organic because they don’t trust labels or certifications.”
Still, organic produce typically sells in China for three to five times the price of conventional produce, the report found. That differential increases the incentive for fraud.
In addition, while a farmer in America or Europe can be fairly confident that a fertilizer or pesticide he buys is what it purports to be, even a well-intentioned Chinese farmer cannot be so sure. A weed-killer billed as all natural might be a potent chemical.
The problems with certified organic products are not limited to China. Stateside activists often ridicule the USDA organic standards as ineffective at best, deceptive at worst. Strengthening the standards is the first step towards securing the integrity of certified organic food, but one that won’t likely be realized because of organized opposition from American agribusiness. The weak standards present an almost irresistible opportunity to the same elusive companies responsible for the Chinese Poison Train.
Just because a product is not truly organic does not mean it is dangerous, but the organic label alone does not mark a product as a chemical-repelling beacon of wellness.