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GOTS-certified organic cotton contains gene-manipulated organisms (GMO)

GOTS-certified organic cotton contains gene-manipulated organisms (GMO). The guidelines prohibit this. However, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) does not pursue these accusations, but rather contests the testing process.

Not only we have been warning for a long time: at some point, there will be neither GMO-free cotton, nor clean seed in India, as manipulated genes reach non-manipulated plants of the same species through pollination and thus become part of the seed. Especially India, where GMO cotton was first cultivated in 2002 and where the percentage has in the meantime reached more than 90%, now has a greater problem. GMO contamination has now been found in GOTS-certified cotton thread from India.

The suspicion that certified organic cotton contains GMO was voiced by the state-run Indian export organisation Apeda in April 2009. During his time with the organisation, director Sanjay Dave spoke about a case of fraud of “gigantic proportions”. It was written in an article of the Financial Times Germany, that dozens of villages had introduced large amounts of genetically-manipulated cotton to the market together with Western certification companies. Back then it was assumed that the organic textile industry would not bite the hand that feeds it, and that the industry would start to monitor the production process more closely. However, this sadly did not happen.

Now, the Swiss magazine Saldo (similar to the German Ökotest-Magazin) has conducted research in India and has had GOTS-certified organic cotton thread tested. The result: the German laboratory has detected high amounts of GMO contamination. When confronted with the results, a GOTS spokeswoman opposed the results, saying “GMO can only be detected in the raw cotton, not in cotton thread”. 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 is false.

The positions are clear

The EU says: “Produce, that was produced from or by GMO, is … incompatible with the customer’s perception of ecological/organic produce”. Thus, the fraudulent use of organic labels is conscious consumer deception.

The magazine Saldo reports what has long been feared: “Pure organic seeds are hardly available and even seeds declared as GMO-free seeds are often contaminated.” Indian traders and producers are not corrupt due to hardship; a lack of awareness and acquisitiveness play a large role. We ourselves have made this experience: as organic cotton is up to 15% more expensive, Indian traders prefer to buy conventional cotton and obtain the organic certificate for it later.

The GOTS does not allow any GMO-pollution, only accepting 0.0 % GMO-pollution in the finished product. While rigorously monitoring the compliance with all other organic criteria, GOTS does not stipulate any GMO tests. Why? As previously stated: good and reliable methods of testing are arduous and expensive. It is reckless to not carry out the tests for these reasons!

We have seeds and all harvested cotton tested for GMO-traces by the special laboratory Impetus Bioscience in Bremerhaven, as we want to assure the safety of our customers and of ourselves. We do this although the land used for our cotton project in the Kyrgyz Republic lies far away enough from GMO land and Uganda, our second project country, has completely decided against genetic engineering. We demand that the GOTS immediately conscientiously investigates the accusations being made. The reputation of the entire organic textile industry is at stake.

Since the year dot, Cotonea has fundamentally fought against genetic engineering in agriculture, for reasons that go far beyond the problem of GMO-traces. We would like that seeds are and stay freely available. Farmers must receive and be able to reseed the seeds from the previous year’s harvest free of charge, without having to pay licence fees for the seeds!

We demand that glyphosate no longer receives clearance. GMO cotton contains a bacterial gene, which allows it to produce an enzyme through which it is immune against the herbicide glyphosate. This way, this weed killer can - extensively applied - destroy all other plants that grow on a field except for cotton. In addition to conventional industrial agriculture, genetically manipulated plants contribute to the global extinction of species.

And we demand an end of the negative fast fashion culture, for this culture has led to such a high consumption of resources, that always more harmful production methods are deployed - indeed during the whole production chain - to maintain this consumption craze.

Press contact:
Hannelore Ohle
+49 711 75881374

Company contact:
Cotonea – Gebr. Elmer & Zweifel GmbH & Co KG
Roland Stelzer
Auf dem Brühl 1-9
72658 Bempflingen