31 August 2001
Brussels admits to organic fraud
By Philip Clarke, Europe editor
BRUSSELS has admitted to widespread fraud involving conventional food being passed off as organic, with unscrupulous dealers reaping an illicit profit.
The admission came in an answer to a parliamentary question by south-west England MEP, Caroline Jackson.
She was concerned by reports of a growing black market in fake organic food, both in the UK and Europe.
In particular, she referred to a 20,000t cargo of normal German grain, worth 3m, which was shipped to the UK and sold as organic.
The commission said it had been informed of cases of fraud on a considerable scale in relation to organic farming in a number of member states over the last few years.
As such, commission officials are currently piloting an early warning scheme and tightening up the inspection guidelines.
Dr Jackson said: British consumers are very much at the mercy of continental organic producers because we still import so much organic produce.
We all know that port controls on food are poor, so we have to take urgent action to stop such fraud.
Dr Jackson has written to Sir John Krebbs, head of the UKs Food Standards Agency, asking him what he intends to do about it.
They are the front line police force, she told Farmers Weekly. They must come up with better systems for checking and tracing food.