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THE MAFIA AGRO BUSINESS - FAKE OLIVE OIL

Any italian product you buy is fake. The illuminati mafia controls Italy's agriculture and they've been mislabelling things like olive oil for decades. All of their products are diluted, many are not what they say they are and they are using slave labor to artificially decrease prices.

Visit any American supermarket and you'll likely find rows of golden-hued olive oils, many with picturesque labels declaring them Italian extra-virgin. However, Italy's olive oil business has been corrupted by the Mafia, which is making big bucks tampering with Italian food products in ways that could affect American consumers. The Italians call it "Agromafia" and it's estimated to be a $16-billion per year enterprise. One result: Much of the olive oil we import isn't as pure as it seems.

"Much of the extra virgin Italian olive oil flooding the world's market shelves is neither Italian, nor virgin," the New York Times warns. Even in Italian supermarkets, the rate of fake olive oil on the shelves is estimated at 50%. Generally, olive oils are mixed with sunflower, canola or colza oil, chemically deodorized and then flavored.



True extra-virgin olive oil comes exclusively from the first pressing of the olive harvest and contains no additives. "You know, when you see it there [in Italy], it's this almost luminescent green," Campanile says. "It looks like nothing you've seen before, and tastes like nothing you've tasted before."

Unfortunately, by the time this heavenly liquid reaches American shores, much of it has lost its luster, often due to improper storage or tampering. Journalist Tom Mueller, who has researched the industry, estimates that half the oil sold as extra-virgin in Italy and 75-80 percent of the oil sold in the U.S. does not meet the legal grades for extra-virgin oil.

The most common type of fraud, Campanile explains, is mixing Italian extra-virgin with lower quality olive oils from North Africa and around the Mediterranean. In other cases, a bottle labeled "extra-virgin olive oil" may not be olive oil at all, just a seed oil like sunflower made to look and smell like olive oil with a few drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene. Major Sergio Tirro of the Italian Carabinieri police, one of the top investigators of food fraud in Europe, showed 60 Minutes' Bill Whitaker just how easy it is to make a realistic-looking fake.

"Olive oil fraud has gone on for the better part of four millennia," Campanile says. "The difference now is that the food supply chain is so vast, so global, and so lucrative that it's easy for the bad guys to either introduce adulterated olive oils or mix in lower quality olive oils with extra-virgin olive oil."



Despite the efforts of the Italian government to stop what's become known as the agro mafia now controlling most of the olive oil production and marketing - as well as numerous campaigns by the region's producers to regain their reputation and cleanse the "made in Italy" branding - a massive olive oil scandal is being uncovered in Southern Italy ( Puglia, Umbria and Campania). It involves olive oils from Syria, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia, bottled and sold as authentic Italian extra virgin to foreign markets, particularly the United States and Japan.

That discovery came to light in a bigger undercover operation by the Italian police, dubbed "Mamma Mia," that last week revealed another massive scam in the same region: Thousands of tons of low-quality oils from Spain and Greece also passed off as extra virgin Italian.

And that scandal followed yet another connected to an investigation of seven of the best-known Italian olive oil producers, including Bertoli, Sasso and Carapelli, allegedly selling fake olive oil as extra virgin "made in Italy."

A study last year by the National Consumer League found that six of 11 bottles of extra virgin olive oil from three major retailers—Whole Foods, Safeway SWY +0% and Giant—failed to meet extra virgin requirements.

"America is the dumping ground of all those fraudulent operations," Gaea's David Neuman explained. "There are not enough resources to control the over 350,000 tons of olive oil entering the country. That's why, even after the scandals, adulterated olive oil bottles are still on supermarket shelves."

This problem is only getting worse. Anti-mafia prosecutors and Italy's farm lobby Coldiretti in 2017 expressed concern that the country's crime syndicates have increased their infiltration or control of agriculture and food markets, ranging from citrus exports to the U.S., Italian wholesale produce markets and local supermarket chains. They urged new legislation to help law enforcement crack down on mobsters' involvement in farming and food production.

A report estimated the overall volume of business in what has been called the "agri-Mafia" interests jumped by 30 percent in 2016, compared to 2015's volume. The report, which was presented at Coldiretti's Rome headquarters to anti-Mafia investigators, law enforcement ministers, lawmakers and police officials, calculated the amount of business at 21.8 billion euros ($23 billion), stressing the estimate was likely low.

The bounty of Italy's renowned farm products is so plentiful, each crime syndicate and sometimes even specific clans are specializing in certain items.

"The most notorious clans of organized crime have divvied up the food business, putting their hands on the products that are symbols of ‘made in Italy,'" Coldiretti said.

The Mafia is also subsidizing their industries through slavery.

Supposedly, slavery was abolished centuries ago. But most recent statistics say that in Europe over 1 million people are slaves, victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and forced labour.

Italy is one of the European countries, along with Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece and Romania where modern slavery labour conditions are still in high numbers. The Report "Modern Slavery Index 2017" by the British Study Centre Verisk Maplecroft, highlights the tight relation between increasing immigrants on the European shores and the increasing slavery problem, in particular in primary countries of arrival.

In Italy, migrants are victims of the huge business called "agromafia", short for mafia in the agriculture sector, estimated to have had a revenue of around 14 billion euros in 2013. FLAI-CGIL is the Italian labour union which supervises and protects human rights in working conditions in the agriculture field. Professor Jean-Rene Bilongo, FLAI-CGIL Migrants Affairs National Officer in the interview with WIB, says "Migrants are often victims of exploitative labour in agriculture" and it is not an issue limited to Southern Italy.

The ‘enslaving process', begins even before migrants arrive on the Italian shores. In fact, the organized crime, through local intermediaries in Africa and the Middle East, arranges the journey for thousand euro, a debt that forces them to accept horrid living and working conditions at the time of arrival. Obliged to work in illegal forms to pay back the debt, migrants also get threatened to be exposed to the police their illegal stay in the country, thus facing the repatriation.

The slavery conditions happen all over the country, from tomato and olive plantations in the South to the best wine-producing companies in the North and it is not possible to create a detailed map of slavery in Italy because the phenomenon is "systemic and fluid".

Abuses are part of the day, just recently law Enforcement handcuffed two people in Taranto for severe labour exploitation, explains Professor Bilongo. "35 Romanians workers paid 1,5 euros per hour for seventeen hours a day with no weekly break" and parked in basic rooms with no toilets, he adds. "At any complain, they would be bitterly beaten up".