Concerned about certified-organic agricultural interests in his state and consumer confidence in the “organics” label, Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to “ensure that foreign imports, especially from China, meet the same high standards as domestically produced organic products.” In his September 20, 2010, letter, Schumer refers to media accounts questioning the validity of organic claims for Chinese agricultural exports and a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) audit that revealed “potential problems with oversight of Chinese-produced organic products.”  

Schumer urges the agency “to review its system of oversight for foreign certifiers, especially those operating in China,” to ensure that current practices comply with U.S. standards. Schumer states, “[G]iven China’s extremely poor track record on ensuring the safety and quality of its products, it is imperative that USDA thoroughly scrutinize its program to certify Chinese organic products to determine if it is managed and funded appropriately.” He also contends that without a mechanism to distinguish between organic and non-organic imports via customs statistics presents “a huge gap in the system” hindering USDA oversight.