H&M; Caught in "Organic" Cotton Fraud

organic-cotton-hm photo

Credit: Andreas Tellefsen , Via Ecouterre

Earlier this month we reported that H&M; was destroying clothes now it's their--not so--organic cotton fabrics making headlines. The German edition of the Financial Times newspaper has uncovered an alleged organic cotton fraud by European brands H&M;, C&A;, and Tchibo. According to Lothar Kruse, a director of the independent testing laboratory Impetus in Bremerhaven, "30% of the tested samples" of organic cotton fabric contained genetically modified (GM) cotton, EcoTextile News reports: Sanjay Dave, head of the Indian agricultural authority, Apeda, told the newspaper that the level of fraud is on "a gigantic scale." EcoTextile News reports, below.

The GM cotton found in the brand's collections has been traced back to India which now supplies nearly half of the global supply of organic cotton. According to Organic Exchange figures - to be released shortly - India produced 61% of the total amount of organic cotton produced in 2008/09 with some 107,000 tonnes of fibre out of the total 175,113 tonnes grown worldwide.

There has been a strong suggestion in the sustainable textile industry that all has not been well in certain sections of the Indian organic cotton sector for some time. Reports from reliable, trusted organizations and producer groups about fraud within the Indian sector of the organic cotton industry have been common-place.

In April 2009 Indian authorities discovered the alleged fraud and third party certification agencies EcoCert and Control Union were fined. A spokeswoman for H&M; told AFP that the company became aware of the incident last year, admitting that "GM cotton could have made it into H&M;'s organic range."

If anything has been made clear out of the alleged fraud, it is that firmer rules need to be in place and enforced along the organic cotton production chain, including third party certification. Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper quoted Monika Buening, of the Federal Consumer Affairs Agency saying, "The fashion chains were not vigilant enough."

Thanks to Ecouterre for tipping us to the news. Read their coverage, here: H&M;, Other Brands Guilty of "Organic Cotton Fraud"?.

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