Cotonea, Germany raises concern…: GMO cotton in GOTS labelled products originating from India…
Organic Cotton is not expected to contain any genetically modified content. The EU regulation states that GMOs and products produced from or by GMOs are incompatible with the concept of organic production and consumers’ perception of organic products. How
Recently, Textile manufacturer Elmer & Zweifel GmbH & Co.KG, the...
Recently, Textile manufacturer Elmer & Zweifel GmbH & Co.KG, the German owner of the Cotonea organic cotton brand called for an investigation by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) claiming that many GOTS labelled products originating from India are actually produced from genetically modified (GMO) cotton. Cotonea which closely monitors the entire production process from cultivation on the cotton fields to spinning, weaving, refining and tailoring until the product reaches the shops, notes that GMO cotton in India now accounts for as much as 90 per cent of the total production and soon there will be no GMO-free cotton available in India as GMO cotton plantations continue to expand into nearby organically grown agricultural land. Apparel Online takes a look at the activities of GOTS to ensure authenticity of the nearly 800 GOTS certified companies in India covering the entire supply chain from cotton to the final product.
The claims being made by Cotonea are not new. Almost 7 years ago, there were similar reports claiming that top brands like C&A, H&M and Tchibo have been unknowingly selling garments labelled as organic, which were actually contaminated with genetically modified cotton. In the recent development, Cotonea briefs that GOTS-certified organic cotton contains gene-manipulated organisms (GMO), which are against the concept of organic, as guidelines prohibit this. An official press release by the company gives reference to a research conducted in India which has had GOTScertified organic cotton thread tested. In its result, the German laboratory detected high amounts of GMO contamination.
However, this very method of testing has been opposed by a GOTS spokeswoman, who states, “GMO can only be detected in raw cotton, not in cotton thread”. The brand counter claims that this statement is true as long as only cheap, fast tests are conducted. If one really wants to get to the bottom of the matter and if more money is spent on reliable tests, this statement will be proved to be false. So far GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) has not actively followed upon these accusations, but rather contests the testing process.
GOTS stands by the perspective that it has worked on similar concerns raised by few other brands in the recent past, and it believes that the primary problem is centred around the reliability of the test results, as there are no established ISO/ ASTM/ DIN/ BIS test methods for extracting DNA from processed textiles. “Different laboratories and experts in the world have made contradicting claims on the possibilities in this field. GOTS also conducted a Round Robin test with limited samples, where 6 out of 8 labs gave incorrect results on qualitative screening
of raw fibre (without seeds) and none of the labs could give correct results for quantification of the GMO content,” reasons Sumit Gupta, Deputy Director, Standards Development & Quality Assurance, Representative in India and Bangladesh, GOTS.
With an endeavour to collect more reliable data in this particular field, GOTS is now planning to conduct a larger testing project. It also suggests that a formalized test method needs to be developed for testing GM matter in cotton fibre, yarn, fabric so that such a method is made widely available for adoption and use by suitably qualified laboratories and the industry.
As the world’s leading standard for processing of organic fibres, GOTS claims to be fully committed to ensure credibility of organic claims at every processing step. Furthermore, it is having detailed discussions with like-minded organizations, such as Textile Exchange to develop a common strategy to address possible GM contamination in the organic cotton chain. “GOTS is actively engaged with several brands and retailers to address this issue in a positive manner so that the industry and consumers are both appropriately informed of the products they purchase and are also safeguarded from claims that cannot be verified,” says Rahul Bhajekar, Director, Standards Development & Quality Assurance, GOTS.
Indian companies are not corrupt due to hardship; but lack of awareness plays a larger role. As organic cotton is up to 15% more expensive, Indian traders prefer to buy conventional cotton and obtain the organic certificate for it later.
A report of Soil Association, UK says that organic cotton is replacing GM cotton production in India. Non-GM and organic production is now in a positive situation, offering lower production costs and supporting healthier agricultural, environmental and social outcomes