The Center for Food Safety has questioned the authority of the new US organic label.

The activist group criticised the new label because the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) failed to establish an independent panel to oversee the certification process. The group has filed a complaint with the USDA on behalf of a number of activist groups, including the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture and the Union of Concerned Scientists, reported the Associated Press.

The new labelling rules come into force on 21 October. The USDA has established the criteria to be used to accredit private groups and state agencies to certify organic food. Over 120 parties have already applied to become certifiers, and the USDA’s National Organic Programme has accredited 58 of those.

Andrew Kimbrell, spokesman for the Center for Food Safety, said the USDA is required to review applications in conjunction with a panel of consumers and organic groups. This panel was never set up, and the petition organised by Kimbrell’s group and fellow activists alleges that the new US organic label risks being undermined by certifiers who lack integrity and experience.