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TEXAS – Textile Exchange is changing the requirements of its its Organic Content Standard (OCS) amid ongoing concerns about widespread fraud in the organic cotton sector. From December 2022, OCS will require that site inputs from the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) provide traceability of all transaction certificate (TC) data back to the original farm source (e.g. full transaction certificate data including product and input product) and farm input data (e.g. farm capacity).

The US non-profit claims the move is designed to provide a further safety net against fraud. However, many within the industry believe the paper-based certification system is broken beyond repair and requires wholesale reform to provide a better deal for organic cotton farmers.

A statement from Textile Exchange said: “The additional data is being requested of certification bodies and standards users. This may require certification bodies to change contracts, policies, and technology systems to make this possible. While we can require our own certification bodies to supply this data, we cannot extend this requirement to certification bodies operating in other schemes.”

Commenting, Crispin Argento of organic cotton consultants, the Sourcery, said: “Although it is laudable that TE and others are working diligently to address major integrity gaps in their own private standards to quell the growing distrust in the organic chain-of-custody system, tightening the screws on the sector at this stage is not a solution, it’s a stopgap, disguised as progress.

“Instead, we need a reinvention of the organic cotton system from the seed forward by first focusing our investment in the gins, farm groups, and the growers who lack the commitments, critical resources, and incentives needed to grow cotton organically in the first place.

“We need to invest less in certified organic chain-of-custody systems which costs the sector an estimated US$250m per year and more in farmers. Just imagine what an estimated US$1.04 per kilogram of organic cotton currently spent on certification would do for rural communities and growers if it were reinvested at the farm.” 

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