Cornucopia’s experts call Popoff’s claims “unsubstantiated” and complain he’s another in a long line of critics such as Dennis and Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute that have challenged the authenticity of the organic food industry’s production and pricing practices.

But even Cornucopia agrees that changes need to be made to the USDA National Organic Program to improve the screening process for “toxic” chemicals in organic foods. “We think there is great merit in doing spot testing, as Congress required, and we have criticized USDA for not having implemented testing until now,” Cornucopia’s Will Fantle said.

The USDA’s National Organic Program is currently soliciting public comments on a new federal ruleoutlining the periodic residue testing of organically produced agricultural products. The proposal calls upon independent organic certifiers to conduct more surprise inspections of organic operations.

Popoff says more is needed than just the current written records with auditors who simply look at the paper trail. He proposes that organic crops be randomly tested in the field in the middle of the growing season to ensure that no herbicides have been applied.

That testing needs to be conducted not only in the U.S. but also in countries that have adopted the USDA National Organic Program standards and ship their products into this country using the USDA certification label.

New Officers

At its annual meeting the Southern Crop Production Association’s board of directors also ratified the selection of Jeff Cassady, a regional manager for Bayer CropScience based in Reidsville, N.C., as its president for 2013-14.

Spencer Black with Triangle Chemical Co. in Macon, Ga., will become vice president; Steve Williams with Albaugh Inc., in Albany, Ga., will become secretary/treasurer; and Joe Will with Southern States Cooperative in Richmond, Va., the immediate past president will become president ex officio. Ed Duskin of Dawson, Ga., will remain executive vice president.

The SCPA also named Ana Cristina Rodriguez, state registration and regulatory affairs manager for DuPont Crop Protection, as the winner of its William C. Larue award for significant service to the SCPA and the crop protection industry.

Rodriguez is currently serving as chair of the SCPA State Affairs Committee and leads the U.S. State Registration Group at DuPont that is responsible for obtaining and maintaining registrations for crop protection and professional products in the U.S.

The SCPA’s Don W. Beise Award for Significant Service was given to Lynne Hoot, executive director of the Maryland/Delaware Agribusiness Association. She also serves as executive director/administrator for six other agricultural associations. The award is given annually to a person outside the SCPA.