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India: GMOs in GOTS-certified organic cotton

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India is an important crop area for organic cotton. (Photo © Pixabay)

With GMO cotton first having been grown in India in 2002, its share of all cotton is now well over 90 percent. A few years ago, the Indian export company Apeda already suspected that organic cotton was contaminated with GMOs. In an article, the Financial Times Germany even reported that many villages, working together with western certification firms, had put large quantities of genetically modified cotton on the market.

Now, the Swiss magazine Saldo has carried out research in India and has had GOTS-certified organic yarn tested. A German laboratory revealed a high level of GMO contamination. GOTS defends itself by saying that GMOs are not present in the yarn but were detected only in the raw cotton. This only occurs, however, if the product is subject to cheap, rapid testing instead of being tested by more reliable methods.

Clear positions in protecting organic standards

According to the EU, products manufactured from GMO-contaminated materials are not in conformity with what consumers regard as organic products. If the organic logo is nevertheless used for GMO-contaminated products, we have a case of deceit. According to the reports from Saldo magazine, pure organic seed is now in short supply in India and, even when it is declared to be GMO-free, it is often contaminated. One of the reasons for this is the fact that Indian traders, because of higher prices for organic cotton, often choose to buy conventional seed and acquire organic certification by another way.

GOTS itself does not permit GMO contamination of any kind in the end products. But, whereas it rigorously checks that all other organic criteria are being adhered to, it does not prescribe testing for GMO. Now the German textile firm Cotonea is calling on GOTS to investigate thoroughly the latest criticism since the reputation of the whole organic textile sector is at stake. Further, Cotonea demands seed to be made freely available for farmers.




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