Inspection Services Blog

Judge upholds $1.89 million penalty against Agro Research International LLC for adulteration and mislabeling of organic fertilizer

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is announcing that an administrative law judge has upheld a penalty of $1.89 million plus investigative costs against Agro Research International, LLC, for adulteration and mislabeling of registered organic fertilizing material AGRO GOLD WS. The product was found to contain the synthetic herbicides diquat and glyphosate, both of which are prohibited from use in certified organic agriculture production. 

“This investigation and penalty based on scientific results is a perfect example of how CDFA’s Inspection Services Division preserves the integrity of the California certified organic label, as well as truth in labeling and our high standards to protect the agriculture industry and public,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “It’s also a strong example of how our Fertilizing Materials Inspection Program, the State Organic Program, and the Center for Analytical Chemistry collaborate effectively.” 

In August 2020, CDFA initiated an investigation into AGRO GOLD WS, co-packaged with the organic herbicide WEED SLAYER. The product was registered with CDFA as a “biological amendment” and the company was required to adhere to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program standards for organic food and crop production. CDFA analyzed 17 samples of AGRO GOLD WS. All laboratory analyses indicated unequivocal confirmation of adulteration with diquat and glyphosate at significant levels. Results of samples analyzed by four other state departments of agriculture were consistent with CDFA’s results. 

On December 4, 2020, CDFA’s Fertilizing Materials Inspection Program, pursuant to its authority under the Food and Agricultural Code, issued an order of statewide quarantine and removal from sale of AGRO GOLD WS. On the same date, CDFA’s State Organic Program executed a stop-use order for AGRO GOLD WS. Sale and use of this product posed a public health risk because the synthetic herbicides were not disclosed on its label. In May 2022, CDFA sent a Notice of Penalty and Adverse Determination to Agro Research International, LLC, which then requested a hearing before an administrative law judge who, again, upheld the decision.  Click here to view the decision. 

Parties in possession of AGRO GOLD WS who wish to dispose of this quarantined inventory are instructed to submit a disposal plan to CDFA via this form.

Click here to view this original CDFA news release.

This entry was posted in CDFA California State Organic Program, CDFA Center for Analytical Chemistry, CDFA Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch, CDFA Fertilizing Materials Inspection Program, CDFA Inspection & Compliance Branch, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Organic Input Material Program and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *