Global fast fashion retailer H&M and European chains C&A and Tchibo have been caught selling misleading “organic cotton” products to consumers. Independent testing done by Germany’s Financial Times showed that 30% of the samples contained genetically modified strains of cotton. Oops.
Lothar Kruse, a director of the independent testing laboratory Impetus in Bremerhaven, who examined the cotton fabrics claimed around “30% of the tested samples” contained genetically modified (GM) cotton. The head of the Indian agricultural authority, Apeda, Sanjay Dave, told the newspaper they were dealing with fraud on “a gigantic scale.”
The GM cotton found in the brand’s collections has been traced back to India which now supplies nearly half of the global supply of organic cotton. According to Organic Exchange figures – to be released shortly – India produced 61% of the total amount of organic cotton produced in 2008/09 with some 107,000 tonnes of fibre out of the total 175,113 tonnes grown worldwide.
In order to be considered organic, according to EU regulations and the standards of the Organic Trade Association, genetically modified organisms can’t be part of a product calling itself “organic.” Europe allows a small amount of GMO organisms (.9%) to allow for seed spillage and other accidental cross-contamination. US standards do not.
Considering the amount of cotton (and purportedly organic cottons) imported from India, it will be interesting to determine the source of and fallout from the fraud.
Organic cotton ‘fraud’ uncovered [Ecotextile News] (via Fast Company – Thanks, Brandy!)