The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) has found proof of organic cotton fraud in India following an investigation. GOTS have uncovered 20,000 metric tons of fake organic cotton.
GOTS said it has collected considerable documentary evidence of systematic fraud and exploitation of the Indian government’s certification system of organic cotton production following surveillance audits by GOTS accreditation body IOAS, which is part of the GOTS quality assurance.
GOTS has found around 30% of the tested samples of organic cotton from India contained genetically modified (GM) cotton. The presence of genetically modified material is not permitted in certified organic products and most people who spend the extra cash to buy organic cotton with the environment in mind would be shocked to hear this.
Apeda, Head of the Indian agricultural authority, said they were dealing with fraud on “a gigantic scale.”
A lot of this fake organic cotton is not only ending up in shopping bags, but in big brand name clothing products too.
Behind this mentality there is role of all the stake holders of the apparel supply chain. Consumers are trying to lead a green lives but brnads still put pressure on companies to crank out environmentally friendly products as cheaply and their not-so-earth-friendly counterparts. That type of pressure encourages these sorts of things to happen.
At the opposite end of the scale, eco-chic brands aren’t off the hook either. People pay more for the label and still might be getting a far less eco and human friendly product than they realize as some brands have been caught up in this scandal too.
At the risk of offending some readers, the eco-chic fashion industry is often still about unnecessary consumption (think new season fashions) and the mark-ups can be horrific. Good clothing should never go “out of style”, nor should the label selling it be raking in a huge profit while paying producers of textiles a pittance.
India produced 61% of the total amount of organic cotton grown globally in 2008/09 and given the apparent scale of the fraud it is going to be challenging for any retailer selling products made from organic cotton to reassure consumers as to its provenance in the short term. This isn’t just a blow to India, but to the entire green business sector.