According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it will require periodic tests of organic food starting Jan. 1, 2013, to help ensure producers aren’t using prohibited pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or other nonorganic substances. Under existing USDA regulations, organic-food producers must get an initial inspection before being certified to produce organic food. But the agency hasn’t required they get continued periodic testing to ensure their products remain free of nonorganic material.
The USDA is mandating that agents test annually a minimum of 5% of the farms or production facilities they are contracted to monitor. That is enough testing, the USDA said, to discourage use of prohibited substances without raising costs to the organic industry. It will be up to the private, USDA-accredited agents as to which facilities to test. The agency said the new testing requirements will protect the integrity of the industry by discouraging the mislabeling of organic food that consumers buy.
The 1990 law that ordered the creation of organic standards called for periodic testing of foods labeled organic, but regulators never put in place clear rules to do so, according to a 2010 inspector-general report. The USDA didn’t put in place rules governing organic-food production until 2002, and only a small number of private agencies have been performing routine testing since then, mostly on a voluntary basis.
The Wall Street Journal article
USDA rule (pdf)