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LONDON – The Better Cotton Initiative’s number one source of cotton, Brazil, has characteristics that make it neither “more sustainable,” “better,” nor “preferred,” claims an upcoming report from Veronica Bates Kassatly, which will appear in the final edition of Apparel Insider of 2020.

The paper says: “BCI Brazilian cotton comes almost entirely from huge farms, owned by soy billionaires and other members of the Brazilian elite, and may be tainted with corruption, necropolitics, and illegal deforestation. Moreover, Brazil, despite accounting for just 5 percent of the world cotton area and 11 percent of world production in 2019/20, also accounted for about 25 per cent of all pesticides used on global cotton.”

“I am not calling for a ban or boycott of Brazilian cotton,” adds Kassatly. “I am simply saying that to label it “more sustainable,” “better,” or “preferred,” is nonsense.”

“My findings come hard on the heels of my revelation that BCI’s number two source of cotton – China (16 per cent of total BCI production in 2018/19) – was almost entirely from Xinjiang and much could be traced directly to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corporation. Accordingly, much of last year’s supposedly ‘Better Cotton’ was tainted with prison labour, child labour, appropriation of natural assets and forced Sinification. 

“Surely it is time for BCI’s main funding brands, including Adidas, H&M, Gap, Nike, C&A, PVH, and others, to take a long hard look at what they are doing and to ask themselves: Is this sustainability or is it greenwashing?”

BCI was offered an right of reply to the research, but did not respond

The full, 4,500-word paper will appear in the November-December edition of Apparel Insider.

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