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LONDON – An audit into allegations which linked the production of Better Cotton in Brazil with deforestation and land-grabbing has been described as “so flawed as to be almost worthless.” The under-fire cotton NGO this week released the findings of an audit on its Brazilian programme. The audit looked into the findings of a report by Earthsight relating to cotton production in Brazil’s Matopiba region. Better Cotton claimed the licensed farms cited in Earthsight’s report on Brazil, which were owned by companies accused of deforestation in Brazil, had not breached its standard.

Zara and H&M, both heavily cited in Earthsight’s report, have not commented directly on its findings. The audit commissioned by Better Cotton can be read HERE.

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Earthsight has poured cold water on the findings. They shared with Apparel Insider a list of Horita and SLC farms certified according to Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Algodão (ABRAPA), a Better Cotton programme partner since 2010. 

The list shows a discrepancy between what Better Cotton says is certified, what ABRAPA says is certified and what the companies themselves say is certified.

Earthsight deputy director Rubens Carvalho worked on the original report into Brazil and Better Cotton. He told Apparel Insider: “This so-called ‘investigation’ is so flawed as to be almost worthless. The investigators examined a tiny proportion of the farms claiming to be producing Better Cotton where we alleged serious harms were occurring and assessed them in a narrow manner which ignored the complexities of the issues we uncovered. This blinkered effort at greenwash won’t cut it with the public, and it shouldn’t with H&M and Zara.”

He added: “We find Better Cotton’s audit extremely unsatisfactory and incomplete. Inexplicably, it focuses on only three farms, none of which are located at Estrondo, one of the most notorious cases of land grabbing in Brazil’s history.

“It ignores the fact that two of the farms audited have their legal reserves on the traditional lands of Capão do Modesto, a fact that is itself the subject of a lawsuit for land grabbing.”

Earthsight also notes that Better Cotton says only three of the SLC and Horita farms named in its report are certified. But the Horita Group and SLC Agrícola say all their cotton is Better Cotton-certified. “ABRAPA lists several other Horita and SLC farms as certified. Why is Better Cotton only focusing on three farms?” the NGO said.

More on this in our next magazine.

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