AMSTERDAM – A new initiative aims to create a universally accepted screening method to test for the presence of GMOs in organic cotton and related textiles to help brands make credible claims. Plans for a harmonised screening tool were initially put forward by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and have now been taken up by the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) with the aim of “creating and securing a globally accepted and objective method to serve the interest of the industry, consumers, and ultimately strengthen and unify the sector.”
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has now approved OCA’s proposal for an International Workshop Agreement (IWA) on a protocol for GMO screening in cotton and textiles. The protocol will provide precise guidelines to laboratories on how to test for GMO presence in cotton and processed cotton fibre in a “reliable and replicable way.”
The possibility to isolate good quality DNA from samples derived from subsequent cotton production and processing steps – such as seed, leaf, fibre, yarn, fabric and garment – will also be assessed to inform the protocol. “This will help to create clarity in the sector with regard to what can and cannot be tested for GMO presence in cotton and textiles,” said a note from the OCA.
Managing the process on behalf of OCA and its brands, Bart Vollaard, programme director of OCA said: “This is one of several investments OCA makes in the sector to help ensure the integrity and quality of organic cotton fibre. The establishment of this GMO screening protocol will help create a common language among laboratories and the textiles industry, and gain assurance about claims of organic cotton”.
The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) approached the Dutch standardisation institute (NEN) to facilitate the development of the workshop to ensure equal perspectives are gathered from all parties concerned and are based on a general, non-bias consensus. The technical project lead is EU Reference Laboratory, RIKILT. Sally Uren — chief executive at Forum for the Future—will act as the independent chair of the IWA-committee in the multi-stakeholder process.
Stakeholders are invited to participate in the development of the protocol on ‘Screening of GMOs in cotton and textiles’. Participation is free of cost.
Registered participants will receive the draft of the protocol and will be invited to submit comments. Comments on the draft received by registered participants will be discussed during two dedicated online meetings, prior to the face-to-face workshop meeting in India in January 2019.