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The Department of Agriculture will begin testing to make sure that foods labeled “organic” are actually free from pesticides, the New York Times reports. The decision comes after a report from the inspector general for USDA found “numerous shortcomings at the agriculture department’s National Organic Program, which regulates the industry, including poor oversight of some organic operations overseas and a lack of urgency in cracking down on marketers of bogus organic products.”
Spot testing of organic products was required by a law passed in 1990, but those tests weren’t carried out. (The report issued by the inspector general didn’t name any producers who might be spraying crops and then marketing them as organic.) Tests of organic produce are to begin in September.
The USDA’s organic program’s budget is to be increased from $3.9 million to $6.9 million. Sales of “organic” produce reached $26 billion last year.