advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Who Is Certifying Organic Foods?
I understand that there's trouble brewing for certification of organic foods and that the U.S. Agriculture Department is being sued. What's the trouble?
A
Answer (Published 10/19/2004)

We don't know for sure that there's anything wrong with the certification of organic foods, but a nonprofit organization, the Center for Food Safety (CFS), is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for failing to release information about an unexpectedly large number of certifiers participating in the National Organic Program.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

CFS has expressed concern about the increase in the number of certifiers from 49 to 120 since 2000. The organization has raised questions about whether the additional certifiers really are needed or have been added just to deal with certain products and are, in effect, "sham" certifiers. "Our suspicions are that there are certifiers popping up just to certify a couple (of) products, to standards that aren't as stringent as the program is written," said Joe Mendelson, legal director for CFS. "Nobody besides the USDA really knows what the accreditation process really is," he added. "The decision on who is to certify organic produce needs to be in full view of the public where it cannot be influenced by large corporate interests."

CFS's claim, filed in U.S. District Court on Aug. 9, 2004, describes the organization's attempts on at least eight occasions to obtain the information on the certifiers under the Freedom of Information Act. CFS also seeks a waiver of the heavy USDA fees associated with research and copying the information it seeks. The claim further outlines USDA's denial of the requested fee waiver and its lack of response on each of those occasions. In its complaint CFS said that USDA responded to the group's most recent request by saying that providing the information sought would not contribute to public understanding of the certification process. Mendelson said that by "using the fee waiver to delay and prevent giving us the (requested) documents," the USDA is attempting to cut the public out of the debate. "This type of attitude sends a very poor message," he added. "This program should be a model for consistency of information to consumers."

The USDA already has tried to soften organic standards, a move that was rescinded in response to public outcry. The CFS suit seems to be a valid attempt to ensure that USDA keeps all its cards on the table as it administers the National Organic Standards Act. I'll keep you posted on developments as they occur.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here