Albrecht Benzing, CERES - CERtification of Environmental Standards - GmbH
Albrecht Benzing is Quality Manager at CERES GmbH. A studied Agronomist, he worked for many years in development co-operation in South America. Since 2000 in organic certification, since 2004 one of the managers of CERES GmbH, responsible for quality assurance. At the BIOFACH 2020 congress session "Fraud, gaps and loopholes: private and public counteractions and enforcement to complement regulations", Albrecht presented his thoughts on what leads to some of the integrity problems we have in the organic sector.
Regarding the question "what is wrong with the certifiers?", Albrecht assumes that some certifiers, being private businesses, struggle in keeping the balance between economics and integrity. Corruption, competition, the lack of competence, counterproductive remuneration schemes and other factors sometimes outweigh a certifier’s professional pride, his fear of losing reputation and accreditation and the inspector’s personal integrity. As a consequence, some inspectors turn a blind eye on problems that they encounter during inspection. Albrecht suggests that this misbalance has to be addressed by supporting certifiers and establishing stronger oversight systems that deal with the "real issues" and don't get stuck in bureaucracy. He concluded his presentation with a few suggestions on what could be done better to improve the situation.
Please have a look at the video below and feel free to flick through the powerpoint-slides from the presentation underneath.