by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
Last month (August, 2019), U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams sentenced Missouri farmer Randy Constant to 10 years in prison in what is reportedly the largest organic food fraud scheme in U.S. history. Judge Williams gave shorter prison terms to three Overton, Nebraska, farmers whom Constant recruited to join the scheme.
According to the Associated Press :
The farmers reaped more than $120 million in proceeds from sales of the tainted grain. The scheme may have involved up to 7 percent of organic corn grown in the U.S. in 2016 and 8 percent of the organic soybeans, prosecutors said.
“Thousands upon thousands of consumers paid for products they did not get and paid for products they did not want,” Williams said. “This has caused incalculable damage to the confidence the American public has in organic products.”
Williams said the scam harmed other organic farmers who were playing by the rules but could not compete with the low prices offered by Constant’s Iowa-based grain brokerage, and middlemen who unknowingly purchased and marketed tainted organic grain.
Randy Constant reportedly never showed up to serve his prison term, but committed suicide instead.
The Associated Press reports :
A Missouri farmer blamed for running the largest organic food fraud scheme in U.S. history has died by suicide, weeks before he was to report to federal prison to begin serving a 10-year term, a coroner said Tuesday.
Police officers found Randy Constant dead in a vehicle in his garage at his home in Chillicothe, Missouri on Monday evening, hours after federal investigators held a news conference in Iowa to highlight the prison sentence he had received.
Livingston County Coroner Scott Lindley said he concluded that Constant died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and that finding was confirmed by a post-mortem examination at the University of Missouri Medical Center.
“We are still in shock and disbelief over yesterday’s events, when my husband took his own life,” Constant’s wife, Pam, said in a statement. “I know Randy was deeply ashamed of his conduct. As much as we tried to be there for him … it was clearly just too much for Randy.”
She said he would be remembered as “a wonderful father, community leader, tireless volunteer and my beloved husband of 39 years.”
Prosecutors had introduced evidence that Constant often traveled to Las Vegas during the scheme, spending money on gambling and women with whom he had sexual relationships.
Constant’s death came as authorities publicized his prison term, which they said would deter other farmers from defrauding the National Organic Program.
“Randy Constant and his co-conspirators lied to the American public and cheated thousands of consumers,” U.S. Attorney Peter E. Deegan Jr. said. “For years, Constant put personal greed and self-interest above all else.” (Source .)
Why You Cannot Trust the USDA Organic Certification
In 2002, the USDA established standards for the National Organic Program (NOP) along with their own certified organic seal. After establishing the NOP, it became illegal for anyone selling food in the U.S. to make claims for “organic” unless they followed the standards of the NOP, and used a certifying body approved by the USDA.
The original board of the NOP was supposed to be comprised of not only industry leaders, but organic farmers as well.
But over time, many of the original standards have been eroded by big business interests, and those opposing the erosion of those standards have been silenced. (See: Organic Producers Sue USDA for Changing Organic Rules without Public Input )
In 2012, a USDA-funded study found that 40% of all organic food sold in the U.S. tested positive for prohibited pesticides. (See: America’s Fraudulent Organics Industry: 40% of All Organic Food Tested Positive for Prohibited Pesticides )
In 2014, we reported about an investigation conducted by Tropical Traditions (now Healthy Traditions ) which showed that USDA certified organic grains that they were selling were contaminated with the herbicide glyphosate , at levels similar to non-organic grains.
This resulted in Healthy Traditions starting their GMO-tested and Glyphosate-tested programs, where all of the foods they sell are now laboratory tested for the herbicide glyphosate, and where appropriate, such as corn products, GMO lab testing is also conducted.
Disclaimer: Brian Shilhavy is the Editor of Health Impact News, and the founder of Healthy Traditions.