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47 Stan. J. Int'l L. 333 (2011)
Is USDA Organic a Seal of Deceit: The Pitfalls of USDA Certified Organics Produced in the United States, China and Beyond

handle is hein.journals/stanit47 and id is 339 raw text is: Is USDA ORGANIC A SEAL OF
DECEIT?: THE PITFALLS OF USDA
CERTIFIED ORGANICS PRODUCED IN
THE UNITED STATES, CHINA AND
BEYOND
CHENGLIN LIu*
American consumers' appetite for organic foods (organics) has
dramatically increased since Congress passed the Organic Foods Production
Act (OFPA) in 1990. Because the domestic organic food industry has been
unable to meet the growing demand for these products, US. groceries have
increasingly relied on imported organics. Studies show that 40% of organic
foods consumed in the United States are imported from over 100 foreign
countries.
To regulate organic food production, the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) accredits certifying agents, which in turn certify organic
farms and handlers according to US. organic standards. Certifying agents
can be state agencies or private enterprises, including foreign entities. In
2007, USDA-accredited agents certified 27,000 organic producers
worldwide. This certification allows approved foreign products to bear the
USDA Organic seal and freely enter the US. market.
This article evaluates the trustworthiness of the USDA organic
certification process. By using China as an example, the article offers a
comparative assessment of the quality and safety of both domestically
produced and Chinese produced organics in the US. market. In addition, the
article discusses the USDA's failure to keep pace with the supervision of
certifying agents, especially in China and other foreign countries. The article
concludes that the current regulatory framework is not only inadequate to the
task of regulating domestic organics, but also incapable of ensuring the
integrity of imported organics. Thus, the USDA Organic seal misleads
Professor of Law, St. Mary's University School of Law. I would like to thank Professor Kathy L.
Cerminara of Nova Southeastern University School of Law for her helpful comments. I would also like
to thank Bernie Kray and Sheila Via for their comments, editing, research and friendship. Of course, all
errors remain mine alone. I am also grateful to Katy Stein and Stacy Fowler of the St. Mary's
University Law Library for their excellent reference services. I also want to thank the editing staff of
the Stanford Journal of International Law for their superb assistance.
333

47 STAN. J. INT'L L. 333 (2011)

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